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Copyright, 1898, by 

E. P. 1 


The purpose of this book will be easily felt by the reader. 
In passing from sketch to sketch a fair impression will appear 
of what has entered into the commonwealth's making from its 
earliest beginnings in the wilderness down to the present time. 
A history of Indiana has not been attempted ; yet it is hoped 
that no person will turn from the perusal of these pages with- 
out a distinct sense of how interesting and instructive our 
State's history really is. 

The author, in choosing materials for his sketches, looked 
first to their value as testimony tending to establish a correct 
understanding of both traits and conditions. We may be sure 
of holding human attention and interest whenever we present 
human life. There is no romance more picturesque and won- 
derful than the story of actual life ; and life in Indiana has 
not been less romantic than life elsewhere, as these true stories 
from her history will tend to prove. From the first footfall of 
the white man in her forests down to this hour, our State, as 
wilderness, territory, and commonwealth, has been a theater 
for tragedy, melodrama, comedy, song, and farce. Upon its 
stage human life has passed from scene to scene, always devel- 
oping, spreading, increasing in power and value. 

To present a somewhat connected, and yet by no means 
continuous, series of life sketches, taken at times most favora- 
ble to picturesque historical effect, has been the task here 
assumed. Dry statistical and political details have been 
avoided. Men and events have been preferred to philosophi- 
cal and analytical studies of cause and effect. 


Each story stands by itself, and may be read without refer- 
ence to any of the others. In choosing them, one by one, 
consideration was given to their availability as presenting the 
characteristics of the people, the time, and the locality, so as 
to make the book unfold scene after scene running apace with 
the progress of our State's civilization. Of course the student 
learned in history will not find much that is new to him as he 
reads ; yet some of the chapters are made wholly out of matter 
never before in print, while others contain incidents drawn 
from the author's private stores of research. 

In a work like this it has not seemed necessary to burden the 
pages with notes of reference and acknowledgments of au- 
thority. No man's work has been quoted without a proper 
indication of the obligation ; but quotation marks have been 
deemed sufficient for this. Young people, for whom the 
stories are chiefly intended, do not take kindly to any breaks 
in what they are reading. Their feelings have been respected, 
and every page has been written with a hope that it would 
give them so great a thirst for history that at the end of this 
little book they would turn to the masters of historical writing, 
and find them the noblest teachers of what life has been, is, 
and ought in the future to be. 

The history of Indiana may be much easier to read and 
understand after one has taken a lively jaunt over its most 
interesting parts, and has seen its most characteristic phases 
come and go. As an excursionist in a railway coach catches 
from the windows fine, strong impressions of the country he 
passes through, may the reader take into his memory what 
he sees of Indiana's life and progress while perusing the 
stories of her history herein told. 


The Very First Inhabitants . 
The First Human Inhabitants . 
Traits and Habits of Wild Indians 

Early Explorers 

Early French Life in Indiana — Pontiac 
Clark's Capture of Ft. Vincennes. and other 
Tecumseh — The Prophet — Tippecanoe 
A Daring Man — Narrow Escapes . 
An Itinerant Pioneer Preacher 

Flatboat Days 

A Great Man's Boyhood and Youth 
Black and White .... 
A Genial Hermit .... 
The Romance of New Harmony 
A Distinguished Oddity . 
Frontier Pests and Afflictions 
Characteristic Incidents and Anecdotes 
The Period of Canals and Plank Roads 









The Birth and Growth of Free Public Schools 

A Raid into Indiana 

Richard Jordan Gatling . 

The Writers of Indiana 

The Latest Developments in Indiana . 









HE first legend of Indiana is recorded in a great 
book whose leaves are of sandstone and lime- 
stone; it is written in a language, if we may so call 
it, best known to geologists, who have translated it 
for our benefit. It tells us that thousands of years 
ago the whole surface of what is now our State was 
a plain of granitic rock covered by a deep salt sea, 
in which no fish existed, upon which no sea birds 
were living or had ever lived. Desolate, dreary, silent, 
— save the noises of waves tumbled by the winds, — it 
was a mere waste of water. 

From somewhere the Great Power that built the 
universe made arrive in this sea or ocean some tiny 
forms of animal life resembling, more or less, the sim- 
plest small organisms now found in salt water bodies. 
These increased enormously ; and, as fast as they died, 
their remains sank and were deposited at the bottom 
of the sea in the form of cast-off shells, to a great 
extent ground up and turned into a limy substance, 
which, in turn, took the form of limestone, covering 
the whole sea floor. In this rock are preserved many 

7 . 


curious specimens of those little animals, the very first 
known inhabitants of Indiana. 

And the sea went on building layer after layer of 
rock in this way. Meantime, the first inhabitants dis- 
appeared, giving place to shellfish of a different kind, 
which, in their due time, also were destroyed, and so 
on ; the rocks increasing in thickness, each new layer 
holding within its substance specimens of new animal 
forms, until fishes began to appear in our Indiana sea. 

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To-day quarrymen in breaking some of our beautiful 
limestones find impressions of these fishes perfectly 
outlined, even to the finest markings of their fins. Such 
specimens have been preserved in various museums, 
like the one in the State Geologist's rooms in our 
capitol at Indianapolis. 

From time to time, during the long ages, our sea 
flowed away from Indiana, leaving the rock bare. This 
is supposed to have been the result of slow upward 
movements of the sea floor. At all events, the water 
must have entirely disappeared ; for the remains of 
plants, leaves, stems, seeds, roots, and fruits are found 
plentifully in some of the later-formed rocks, and then 

appear the well-preserved forms of various insects 
which could not have lived on a sea. Later the rocks 
show bird tracks and the impressions of reptiles' feet ; 
and at last the bones of large land animals and of 
men. But after the plants and insects had come, after 
vast wild forests and jungles had grown, back again 
rolled the sea and remained covering Indiana for a 
long period, during which more thick rock layers were 
deposited all over the land. Again and again this hap- 
pened, the water passing off, land and forests coming, 
only to be once more overwhelmed for an age and 
buried under slowly forming limestone or sandstone, 
until finally the sea withdrew forever, as we hope, 
leaving a great plain of rock upon which a fertile soil 
was to form for our benefit. 

Still another mighty change came. A vast glacier 
poured down from the north. It was a deep ocean of 
ice slowly moving southward with irresistible weight, 
grinding the hardest stones into dust. It passed over 
a large part of Indiana, at one or two points reaching 
beyond the line of the Ohio River. Wherever this 
glacier went it carried a load of ground-up rock sub- 
stance, which it deposited in the form of what is now 
called bowlder clay. This clay at present covers the 
greater part of our State to a depth of from ten to three 
hundred feet or more, its surface, flat or gently rolling, 
upholding a soil as rich as any in the world. Under 
it lies a sheet of rock, mostly limestone, on the upper 
surface of which may still be plainly seen the long, 
straight grooves and scratches cut by bowlders and 
pebbles dragged or driven over it by the glacier. 


After a great while the ice melted, causing enormous 
floods of water, which followed such depressions as it 
found, and opened for itself the channels of rivers 
and brooks. By means of these natural ditches, as 
we may call them, the country was slowly drained 
until it was fit for plant life. Meantime, the climate 
softened down to a temperate degree, so that the sun 
and the rain rapidly changed the surface of the land 
into soil ; then the winds and waters transported seeds 
from other and older dry lands ; green grasses, shrubs, 
trees — the growth of prairie, marsh, and upland — 
spread everywhere. 

About this time, when Indiana was probably a land 
of lakelets, ponds, and strong, turbulent streams, 
swamps and clayey ridges and gravelly hills, there 
came to it a new sort of inhabitants. These new- 
fresh- water birds, — such as 
cranes, swans, geese, 
ducks, and plovers, — 
swarming in the shal- 
low waters and along 
the grassy and reedy 
shores ; and four- 
footed animals, 
strange to think of 
now, wandered on the 
firmer land. Huge 
creatures very much like 
immense elephants 
browsed on the hills and 
waded in the plashy prairies. 

comers were 


Many skeletons of these giant creatures have been dug 
up in various parts of the State. They were of two 
kinds — the mam- 
moth and the mas- 
todon ; the former 
a hairy elephant, 
the latter the most 
ancient of its fam- 
ily ; both have been 
extinct for thou- 
sands of years 
probably. Nearly 
all of the skeletons 
and fragments of 

skeletons have been found in low, marshy spots, which 
has led to the supposition that the monsters came to 
their death by miring in the mud. 

Other curious animals inhabiting Indiana in those 
far-off days were a huge sloth, called Megalonyx i as 
large as a cow, two species of horse, the peccary or 
wild hog, and the strange beaver (with the outrageous 
name of Castoroides ohioensis) whose bones have been 
found in Carroll, Vanderburg, and Kosciusko counties. 
This beaver, or beaverlike animal, was as large as a 
black bear. 

So it is to be seen that the earliest land inhabitants 
of our State, after the ice had receded, were, some 
of them at least, of wonderful size and strength. How 
they came to die and leave the land to a less powerful 
group of animals it is vain to conjecture ; but they did 
all die, and it is very doubtful whether or not any 


human being ever saw one of them alive within this 
State's limits. 

At some indefinitely later date, bears, deer, bison, 
pumas, wild cats, and the many smaller animals of 
our time, along with the birds familiar to us, and the 
deadly snakes and slimy reptiles, came to this region 
and were here when the first men arrived. The woods, 
the brakes, the grassy prairies, the waters, the clefts 
and caves were swarming with wild life. Indeed, the 
whole region which long afterwards was made into a 
State and named Indiana, was a paradise of a sort to 
make glad the hearts of wild men who depended upon 
the hunter's art for a livelihood. 

But there were no men here ; the only hunters were 
the beasts and birds of prey. The puma sprang 
upon the deer, the great eagle struck down from on 
high to seize the hare, the wolf prowled the thickets 
by night, the bear shambled from grove to grove. 
Millions of wings flickered where waterfowl whirled 
above the lakes, ponds, and streams, intent upon taking 
the fishes, reptiles, and aquatic insects with which the 
water teemed. Song birds, too, were everywhere in the 
woods, making a great, sweet tumult of voices in all 
the groves and thickets. 

Surely now it was high time for people to come and 
take possession of a land so plentifully supplied with 
game, with fish, with sweet springs of water, with soil, 
timber, stone — indeed with everything that simple, 
primitive man could desire. 

But where were people to come from ? America 
had not yet been discovered by Columbus ; not even 

a savage Indian knew that such a land as our State 
then existed for him. On the north lay the Great 
Lakes, beyond which stretched the cold, bleak region 
of snow ; southward to the Gulf of Mexico the wilder- 
ness was unbroken and unpeopled ; westward it was 
the same all the way over plain and mountain to the 
vast Pacific ; and eastward to the Atlantic coast not 
a human being had ever invaded the solitude. 

In time people came ; but we do not know much 
more about how they came, or where from, than we 
know how and where from came the mastodon, the 
giant beaver, and the great sloth. We know only that 
they came and took possession some time after the 
glaciers had melted and the forests had grown ; how 
long ago, who can ever tell ? 

Nor is it certain just what race or kind of people 
came here first. Learned men who have devoted much 
time and deep study to the question have reached 
widely differing conclusions. We will not stop here 
to trouble ourselves with what cannot be settled ; let 
us rather go straight to what is known, find the peo- 
ple, look at what they did, make their acquaintance 
as best we can, and go on to the next comers ; for 
Indiana has attracted more than one or two classes 
of human inhabitants, and the history of her growth 
from a solitude to a great enlightened and prosper- 
ous commonwealth is rich in picturesque and romantic 

Some writers have thought that the first men prob- 
ably invaded this region before the mammoth and the 
mastodon had become extinct; and, curiously enough, 


the fact appears that rude spearheads and arrowpoints 
have been found in the earth covering the skeletons 
of these monsters ; but to one acquainted with the range 
and effect of such weapons* it seems scarcely possible 
and not at all probable that elephants could have been 
killed with them. So we may feel safe in assuming 
that after the departure of these giant inhabitants came 
men ; and to the men let us go. 



VERY one who has given time and intelligence to 
the study of our western country has been im- 
pressed with the rapid and exceeding great changes 
caused by the work of civilized men. It is hard to 
realize now what the face of the land looked like fifty 
or sixty years ago, even when old people most graphic- 
ally describe it from memory ; nor do most of the 
books give us a better impression. Still more difficult 
do we find it when we try to look back to the far-off 
time when the first human footprints were made in 

We naturally suppose that these first visitors were 
Indians, but we do not know that this conjecture is 
anywhere near the truth. What we do know is that 
strange and interesting traces of human activities, dat- 
ing back probably many centuries, are clearly marked 
in almost every region. These are mostly earthworks 
of various forms — mounds, embankments, and curious 
gardenlike arrangements of soil beds with walks be- 
tween. In some places beds or heaps of shells, broken 
and charred bones of fish, birds, and quadrupeds, sug- 
gest camping spots where cooking and feasting went 
on for years. And almost always in connection with 


these mounds and the like are found human bones, 
curious copper and stone and pottery implements, and 
the crude ornaments worn by the people. 

One thing seems certain : these people were savages. 
The men were wild ; they had for arms crude bows and 
arrows, and clumsy spears ; they used mostly stone axes 
and knives ; the women sewed with flint needles — in- 
deed there is not a hint of anything approaching civil- 
ized usages or enlightened knowledge in anything they 
left behind them. They were hunters, fishermen, war- 
riors, delighting in a roving life, ruthless destroyers of 
beast and bird, and merciless in their fighting with one 
another. And the existence of charred human bones, 
among those of beasts and birds in some of their 
mounds, has raised a strong suspicion that they some- 
times were guilty of cannibalism. At all events, whether 
they were red men or white or black, every mark they 
left behind them attests their savagery. 

And it was as savages that they came into Indiana 
to take possession of a land charmingly attractive to 
their wild nature. It is said that the Indians found 
here when white men first arrived had a vague tradi- 
tion that their distant ancestors came from far towards 
the setting sun, probably the southwest. We do not 
know whether or not these ancestors were the mound 

These first men liked to dwell beside running streams, 
where they could build their earthworks, for whatever 
purpose, on high, well-drained land overlooking the 
course of the water and commanding a view of the 
surrounding country. Some of the most beautiful land- 


scapes in Indiana lie round about these ancient sites of 
savage encampments. Doubtless the mound builders 
were expert canoemen and used the streams as high- 
ways of travel and as base lines from which to make 
explorations and hunting excursions ; for almost every 
water course in Indiana then navigable for canoes has 
here and there along its banks traces of the mound 
builder's rude art. 

The lives of these wild people were chiefly spent in 
procuring food and clothing and in wars between tribes. 
Judged by what we know of our Indian savages gener- 
ally, they must have been a hardy, brave, and restless 
race, full of superstition, with vague and romantic 
religious feelings which led 
them into grotesque and 
\S^ extremely heathenish practices. But they had 
gained considerable skill in making many things that 
were useful to them in hunting, fishing, and war, as 
well as in their simple domestic pursuits. The imple- 
ments of copper, of stone, and of pottery found im- 
bedded in the mounds show the effect of patient 
and quite accurate work. Arrow- 
heads of flint were sometimes so 
neatly finished that they are mar- 
vels of symmetry even when 
compared with like heads made "'. 
of steel by the best workmen of 
Europe for archers in the time when the bowmen of 
England were the finest soldiers in the world. Stone 
mortars and pestles for pounding grain and the kernels 
of nuts and acorns into meal served them instead of 

STO. OF IND. — 2 



mills. For knives they had sharp stones and keen- 
edged blades of bone. 

It is evident that the mound builders depended 
mostly upon spears and bows and arrows for killing 
game. Cunning as foxes and as sly, they doubtless 
stole noiselessly through the woods and jungles, their 
keen eyes alert and their strong bows ever ready for 
a shot. If we knew the form of their bows it would 
aid us greatly in finding out more about their character 
as men ; for among savage wildwood hunters, before 
firearms reached them, the bow was the best sign 
of their condition. Short, weak bows stood for an 
inferior people ; long and strong bows indicated a 
stalwart race of men. But many of the arrowheads 
found in the mounds are large and heavy, fitted for 
use only with powerful bows ; and the axes and spear- 
points were ponderous weapons suggestive of great 
muscular force in those who used them. 

From the northernmost part of the State down to the 
Ohio River the mound builders had their so-called 
fortifications, and the same may be said of the whole 
country on down to the Gulf of Mexico. In many 
places rude stone walls were built instead of earth- 
works, the masonry being regular and strong, but laid 
without mortar. Not far from the Ohio River in our 
southern tier of counties, a number of these walls built 
in various shapes can still be traced, albeit greatly 
fallen to ruin. 

We have noted that the mounds were almost invari- 
ably built on high points of ground overlooking con- 
siderable areas of surrounding country. This choice 


may have been a measure of precaution against the 
approach of enemies, but there was a more urgent and 
natural reason for it. In those early days Indiana's 
territory was almost as much water as dry land. Dur- 
ing a great part of the year nearly all the low, flat 
lands were too wet for camping purposes, and in times 
of long-continued rain even the animals were all forced 
by the water to take refuge on the high places. How 
easy it was then for the mound builders to go in their 
light canoes to the grounds thus surrounded by water 
and kill all the game they needed ! No doubt the 
floods often drove whole herds of deer, flocks of wild 
turkeys, and even many bears and pumas, wild cats, 
and wolves up to the very walls of the encampments. 
Maybe this is why such vast numbers of arrowheads 
are to this day found on the high grounds. 

A great many signs point to the south and southwest 
as the direction whence the first inhabitants reached 
Indiana. Sometimes little things are more significant 
than large ones, and the fact that some of the arrow- 
heads and stone ornaments found in and around our 
ancient earthworks are made of certain kinds of stone 
not appearing anywhere this side of Tennessee, speaks 
almost as clearly as written legend of the route by 
which their owners came to this region. Still we know 
that even written legends are often untruthful, and so 
we must be slow to accept any conclusion as final on 
this subject. 

Some historians have thought that the mound build- 
ers were a race greatly superior to the Indians found 
here by the whites, and have tried to show, by remains 


left here by that vanished people, that they were some- 
what advanced in intelligence beyond common sav- 
agery, and that they were killed off by hordes of far 
more savage Indians who invaded the country not so 
very long before its discovery and occupation by Euro- 
pean explorers. The subject is open for bright young 
minds to investigate ; for on the other hand equally 
strong arguments have been made by eminent men, 
maintaining that the mound builders were but ordinary 
Indians, the ancestors of tribes still in existence when 
the French missionaries and traders came to this region. 
The chief interest that the subject can have for 
ordinary people is the starting point it gives us when 
we wish to trace the progress made by mankind, and 
the great changes wrought by civilization since our 
land was first known to men. No boy or girl twelve 
years old can afford to be entirely ignorant of these 
far-off picturesque beginnings of human struggle for 
mastery in the pathless, beast-haunted wilderness. It 
is only by comparing ourselves and our happy, prosper- 
ous, enlightened condition with the savages and their 
degraded lives, — our country as it now is, with the 
plashy, tangled, jungle-covered, and .malaria-poisoned 
solitudes of the old times, — that we can truly under- 
stand the magnificent extent of our achievements. The 
rude earthworks and clumsy implements left behind by 
the mound builders tell the story of their intellectual 
and moral condition, their mode of life and their limited 
human aspirations, as clearly as our churches, colleges, 
schools, and homes indicate the state of our civilization, 
our hopes, and our ambitions. 


LONG before any white man that we know of ever 
entered within the lines now bounding the State 
of Indiana, several tribes of red men, commonly called 
Indians, had come here to live either permanently or 
temporarily. The first knowledge of these wild people 

found in our histories was gathered for us by French- 
men who were explorers, priests of the order of Jesuits, 
and daring traders seeking wealth in traffic with the 
savages. These energetic and brave men entered the 
area of our State from various directions, and it is 
quite impossible to find out who was the first to arrive; 



but we know that very early in the eighteenth century 
some of them had made considerable explorations, and 
that as long ago as 1710 a French station or post was 
in existence at Vincennes on the Wabash River. It 
was probably there a few years before that date. At 
that time the whole of Indiana was peopled with sav- 
ages who had evidently lived here for a long period ; 
so long indeed that they had no credible legends of 
when their ancestors came, or where they came from ; 
nor had they any connected history of their later 

All accounts written by the priests and other ex- 
plorers agree that the Indians were a stalwart, brave, 
and hardy people, possessing just the order and degree 
of intelligence, and just the animal strength of body 
to make them almost perfect woodsmen, hunters, war- 
riors — men admirably suited to the exposure, dan- 
gers, and physical strain of savage life. Father Rasles, 
or Rale as it is sometimes spelled, writing on the 12th 
of October, 1723, says, — 

" To give you an idea of an Indian, imagine to your- 
self a large man, powerful, active, of a swarthy com- 
plexion, without beard, with black hair, and his teeth 
whiter than ivory." Farther on in the same letter he 
adds, — 

"The occupation of the men is in the chase or in 
war ; that of the women is to remain in the village, 
and to manufacture there, with bark, baskets, sacks, 
boxes, dishes, platters," etc. 

Among all the tribes of which we have any account 
there seems to have been not one sufficiently civilized 


to be willing that their women should rise above the 
condition of drudging slaves, or that the men should 
perform any part of the manual labor necessary to 
their domestic economy. " Good squaw work heap ; 
good brave, big Indian, fight everybody," was the char- 
acteristic expression of a savage warrior setting forth 
the measure of Indian life. 

The women built huts, made canoes, tended the 
fields of corn, gathered nuts and fruits, skinned the 
game, made the clothing. They were the keepers of 
the camp, supporters of the children, and superintend- 
ents of all affairs in the absence of the men. This 
sort of life made them very strong, active, and ingen- 
ious. Some of them were as powerful and as cour- 
ageous as the male warriors ; they would oftentimes 
fight to the death when their camps were attacked. 

The French missionary priests were very successful 
in gaining the respect and confidential friendship of 
the Indians, so that we may, as a rule, accept their 
descriptions of savage life as reasonably accurate. But 
upon one point, at least, due caution must be applied. 
For example, Father Sebastien Rasles says, speaking 
of Indian weapons and their use, — " Arrows are the 
principal arms which they use in war and in the 
chase. They are pointed at the end with a stone 
cut and sharpened in the shape of a serpent's tongue ; 
and if no knife is at hand, they use them also to skin 
the animals they have killed. They are so skillful in 
7ising the bozu that they scarcely ever fail in their aim, 
and they do it with so much quickness that they can 
discharge a Jiwidred arrows in the time another person 


would use in loading Jiis gun." The reader will note 
what we have italicized, and accept the statements with 
liberal use of salt ; they are due to a vivid French 

That the Indians were fairly good archers at short 
range is beyond question ; but their weapons were too 
crude for such accuracy of execution with them as is 
implied in Father Rasles's sweeping statement. There 
is a law governing the action of projectiles which applies 
to the bow and arrows ; it is the law which makes it 
absolutely impossible to do accurate shooting with im- 
perfect weapons, no matter what the experience and 
skill of the archer. Even a perfect arrow cannot fly 
truly from a bow not made with absolute art. This has 
been demonstrated by centuries of enlightened experi- 
menting in England conducted by the best bowmakers 
and archers in the world. Romance is entertaining, 
delightful in its place ; but history must tell the very 
truth, and what is, by the clearest demonstration of 
science, impossible, cannot be true. Therefore, when- 
ever and wherever we see it soberly stated that an 
Indian archer could hit a silver dime almost every shot 
at a distance of thirty or forty yards, we must know 
that the writer is mistaken — the Indian bowman could 
not and did not do it. Such a feat is almost impossible 
to the finest marksmen with guns of practically absolute 
accuracy. Not one expert rifleman in a thousand can 
hit a silver dollar offhand at forty yards with an average 
of three shots out of five. 

The best English archers of whom we have authentic 
account have deemed it remarkable bow shooting to hit 


inside a nine-inch ring on an average once out of three 
shots at sixty yards ; and this with yew bows of the 
most perfect make, and arrows beside which the clumsy 
shafts used by Indian bowmen are not to be considered. 

Still, the fact remains that American savages were, 
all things considered, marvelous archers. They were, 
moreover, incomparably sly, cunning, light-footed, and 
resourceful in pursuit of game. It was necessary for 
them to shoot at short range in order to be reasonably 
sure of their aim ; so they had to steal upon the wild 
things that they wished to kill. With amazing delicacy 
of sight they could track a turkey, a grouse, or a hare 
by observing impressions and signs not visible to ordi- 
nary eyes, just as readily as they could follow the heavy 
trail of a buffalo or the sharp hoof prints of a deer. And 
so light was the fall of their moccasin-shod feet, so sly 
their slipping between the tufts of underbrush, so great 
their knack of keeping always under cover of tree, or 
grass, or foliage, that even the most watchful bird or 
beast would be approached unawares. 

The best Indian bows were made of mulberry, sassa- 
fras, cedar, ash, or hickory ; but the last-named wood, 
though tough and strong, is not springy enough, and is 
too apt to lose its power of recoil. Arrows were made 
of any strong, stiff wood. They were pointed with 
stone, horn, bone, and the like. Even the lower man- 
dible of the kingfisher, the crane, the heron, and other 
birds having sharp bills, was used for pointing light 
shafts. Near the end opposite the point, about two 
inches from the notch for the string, three feather 
vanes were set upon the arrow and fastened there with 


fine threads of rawhide or fibers of animal tendons. 
The shaft was made as straight and even and smooth 
as the utensils and skill of the savage workmen would 
serve them to accomplish, and some of the arrows 
still preserved from those old days are fairly good 
ones. The Indian bows, however, were 
^^^ nearly all of inferior workmanship, form, 
and power. They were short, as compared with 
the English longbow, flat, and of very limited 
draw ; but in the hands of a burly Indian archer 
they no doubt shot with great force at short 
Thus armed, in a land literally teeming with many 
species of wild game, our savage hunter glided warily 
and silently through the thick woods, or crept in the 
tall prairie grass, or lay in wait hidden and alert beside 
some spot where beast or bird was in the habit of 
feeding. He knew every sound, every sign by which 
to foretell the movements of his game, and every pre- 
caution necessary to forestall each kind in its turn. 
He could not afford to lose many arrows. They were 
too hard to make for mere wasting, so he had no 
thought of shooting for idle sport, but reserved his 
shaft until he felt that circumstances all favored the 
chance of hitting what he shot at. 

Many years ago, when Indiana was yet a region very 
little known to white men, a hunter and trapper by the 
name of Sylvester Rowe came into the southeastern part 
of it in pursuit of his vocation. From him was obtained 
the following outline of how an Indian archer killed a bird. 
It is given in substance, but not in his words exactly : — ■ 


The white man was lying, near noontime of a hot 
August day, on a little bluff overlooking a small stream 
and a wide grassy marsh in which there was a shallow 
pond. He was resting in the shade of a low tree, eat- 
ing his luncheon of parched corn and venison, when he 

chanced to see something moving slowly like a shadow 
in the marsh grass. A careful gaze showed him that 
the object was an Indian boy, or youth, sixteen or eigh- 
teen years old, who, bow and arrow in hand, was creep- 
ing towards a duck that sat quite still on the water at 
the edge of the pond. There was ugly black mud all 
over the marsh, and into this the Indian's feet sank 
deep at each stealthy step. He was stooping very 
low in order that the grass might hide his movements, 
and he scarcely seemed to shake the stems and blades 


as he glided noiselessly along. Evidently the duck was 
quite unsuspicious of danger. Nearer and nearer the 
archer crept, until the coveted game was but ten or 
fifteen yards distant ; then, drawing his arrow to the 
head, he let drive, hitting the duck through the body 
at the butts of the wings and killing it almost instantly. 
Now the whole manner of the young savage changed 
in a second. He bounded forward, seized his victim, 
and then ran away with it at full speed, until lost to 
view in the dark w r ood beyond the marsh. 

The Indian archer always carried his arrows in a 
quiver made usually of skin, but sometimes of tough 
bark ; this was slung at his back or side, and was large 
enough to hold from ten to twenty arrows. The feathers 
used for making the vanes on the shafts were taken 
from the wings of wild geese, turkeys, eagles, vultures, 
and herons, for which reason these birds were much 
sought after. 

Boys from infancy were taught the use of weapons ; 
but their arrows were pointed with heavy wood instead 
of stone or bone. They were able to kill small birds ; 
and in the clear water of shallow streams they waded 
and shot fish, of which they were very fond, sometimes 
eating them raw. 

In warm weather Indians wore scant clothing, con- 
sisting in the main of a short garment of dressed skin 
reaching from the waist to near the knees. On their 
feet were moccasins. They thought much of painting 
their skin, usually red or bright brown, in various fan- 
tastic patterns. This was done mostly with soft shale 
of the color desired, which was found in certain locali- 


ties. In cold weather they bundled themselves in hairy 
and fur robes ; but they were very hardy and could 
stand almost any amount of exposure, fatigue, and 

In building their homes the Indians did not show 
much architectural skill. They lived in huts of the 
rudest form and workmanship. A common pattern 
was cone-shaped, made of long, light poles set wide 
apart at the bottom, and leaning so as to come together 
at the top, where they were securely bound together 
with withes of hickory, ropes of bark, or thongs of raw- 
hide. Over these poles the Indians sometimes built a 
thatching of brush upon which earth was thrown. If 
they had plenty of skins, these were used instead of the 
thatching. Bark was also very much to their liking for 
this purpose. The larger huts had a place for a fire 
in the middle of the floor, with a hole in the roof above 
for the escape of the smoke. 

Towns and villages were not permanent, for the 
Indian was naturally a rover and soon grew tired of a 
place, especially when game had become scarce or over- 
shy on account of much hunting. Moreover, tribes 
were jealous of one another, often taking a high-handed 
course to gain advantages, robbing one another of lands 
and goods after the most desperate and cruel fighting. 
The villages, or, properly speaking, camps, were usually 
situated, as were those of the mound builders, on high 
lands close to a stream, pond, or lake, where plenty of 
water could easily be had. 

The canoes in use by Indians were chiefly of two 
kinds : those made of bark or skins, and those dug out 


of a log of wood, and hence called by the early pio- 
neers " dugouts." The Indian canoemen knew all the 
streams and lakes as well as we do, and they had 
discovered, with the accuracy of the best surveyor, the 
shortest and best routes overland between the water 
ways. Over these they carried their canoes and car- 
goes. The French name portage, which means a 
"carrying," was used by early explorers to denote 
these convenient passageways across country from one 
navigable water to another. 

Our savages had no money ; they dealt very little 
with one another commercially ; but they set great value 
upon what was called " wampum," which was an orna- 
mental work of beads made of bone, horn, translucent 
quills, and painted or naturally gay-colored feathers 
and the like, all ingeniously wrought into belts, sashes, 
and other decorations for the person. Wampum would 
generally be accepted in exchange for other articles of 

Indians were inveterate smokers of tobacco, which 
consequently was a very precious weed in their esteem. 
They would go upon long, hard journeys to get a supply 
of it, and to make it last they mixed with it the dried 
leaves of various other plants. Their pipes of stone, 
pottery, and wood were sometimes fashioned to repre- 
sent animals. One found in Fountain County, Indiana, 
has the life-size form of a bullfrog. The pipe was the 
emblem of peace, and to smoke the peace pipe with 
warrior or council was considered an agreement of 
friendship solemnly sealed. 


THE rivers of Indiana have had a great influence in 
shaping the history of the State. All the early 
explorations were performed largely by navigation in 
canoes, and the white men, following the examples of 
mound builder and Indian, set up their first huts and 
tents on eligible spots near the banks of rivers, the 
chief of which, the Wabash, the Maumee, the Kan- 
kakee, the St. Joseph, the Tippecanoe, and White 
River, all flow through our history, as it were, with 
a strange tumult of battles, treaties, treacheries, mas- 
sacres, gradually softening down to the sweet murmur 
of peace and the happy activities of the present time. 
Early in the eighteenth century the French made 
a settlement at Detroit, Michigan. At that time Catho- 
lic missionaries were busy in their noble endeavors to 
plant the Christian religion in the hearts of the Indians 
wherever they could be reached ; and French explorers 
and traders were pushing their enterprises along the 
shores of our great northern lakes. Even so early as 
1679, Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle had built a 
small fort on the St. Joseph River, near its mouth, in 
Michigan. It was called Fort Miamis. At that time 
the Wabash River was but vaguely thought of as a 
stream described by Indians ; or possibly some white 



prisoner, returning from captivity, had brought an 
account of it. La Salle, at the beginning of the winter 
of 1679, led a small body of men down to Lake Peoria, 
in Illinois, by way of the Kankakee River, which he 
had reached at what was called from that time on the 
" Kankakee portage." This portage is a space of but 

two miles 

between the river St. Joseph 

and the Kankakee, in St. Joseph County, Indiana, near 

the present city of South Bend. 

The little band consisted of thirty-three men in eight 
canoes. Father Hennepin, a priest of remarkable 
character who was one of the party, wrote an inter- 
esting account of that daring voyage into the midst 
of the wilderness. Afterwards La Salle voyaged as 
far as the mouth of the Mississippi River, and there 
erected a cross and formally took possession in the 
name of the French king by claiming all the great 


territory watered by the Mississippi, the Ohio, and 
their tributaries. This was on the 9th of April, in the 
year 1682. 

Another priest, Father Zenobe Membre, also ac- 
companied La Salle upon his first voyage down the 
Kankakee; and Hennepin having been taken pris- 
oner in Illinois by the Sioux Indians, Membre wrote 
an account of what happened to the party after that. 
Some years later, after La Salle's death, Hennepin 
published a book, in which he claimed that he had 
explored the Mississippi to its mouth before La Salle. 
Much doubt has been cast upon this claim by the criti- 
cism of careful historians. 

We do not certainly know what white man discov- 
ered the Wabash River, nor do we know whether 
he was free or a prisoner, a trader, a missionary, or 
an explorer. Under different names, and w T ith many 
variations in the spelling, the river was mentioned in 
accounts of travel, from Father Marquette's writings 
on down, always as an important stream. The Indian 
name of the Wabash was probably not exactly pro- 
nounceable by Frenchmen, and they had no combina- 
tion of letters that would accurately represent it. 
The efforts to spell it are very amusing as they 
appear in the old books. At first Father Marquette 
tried " Ouabouskigou " ; but that would not do. Other 
men tried their pens, and wrote the name " Abache," 
"Ouabache," " Oubashe," " Oubask," and " Wabascou." 
Then "Wabache" and " Waubache " led the way to 
the present spelling, " Wabash." So the historic river 
of Indiana got its name settled in literature. The 

STO. OF IND. — 3 


meaning of that name in the Indian tongue was 
" White River," while Kankakee came from another 
Indian word or phrase standing for " the River of the 
Wonderful Land," or, as others make it, " Wolf-land 

Not far from the city of Fort Wayne a branch of the 
Wabash called Little River runs within a short distance 
of the Maumee. Here was the old-time " portage of 
the Wabash," over which canoes were carried from one 
stream to the other, first by the Indians, and afterwards 
by the whites. Up the Maumee came the famous 
DTberville in 1699. He was then leading a colony of 
Canadians to far-off Louisiana, where the French were 
struggling to get and maintain a foothold on the Gulf 
coast. From the Maumee he crossed the portage to 
the Wabash, which he descended. 

The immense value of trade with the Indians now 
began to attract many adventurous spirits, and at the 
same time the good Catholic missionaries redoubled 
their zeal and energy in efforts to convert and some- 
what civilize the savages. French enterprise soon set 
itself to establishing a line of posts or stations, extend- 
ing from the Great Lakes to the Gulf coast near the 
mouth of the Mississippi. One of these posts was 
fixed at a point on the Wabash near the present city of 
Lafayette, and was called Ouiatenon ; another was 
placed on the same river, where the city of Vincennes 
now stands. 

There was not much trouble with the savages until 
the traders began to sell intoxicating liquors to them. 
Something in the Indian nature seemed to crave strong 


drink with a consuming and irresistible appetite from 
the first moment that it was tasted, and ever afterwards 
the desire grew. Unscrupulous men saw at once their 
advantage. So long as they could offer whiskey, rum, 
gin, or brandy to their victims, they could have abso- 
lute control of traffic. Drunkenness spread like a 
deadly epidemic, followed, of course, by crime, outrage, 
and wretchedness. The noble and unselfish labors of 
the missionary fathers were thus in a large degree neu- 
tralized by this insidious influence. The Indians were 
swindled without mercy, deceived, and plundered, and so 
lost confidence in the white man's pretensions to great 
virtue and Christian philanthropy — their simple minds 
could not discriminate. 

But in order to have a striking impression of what 
the white explorers themselves had to undergo, let us 
turn back for a while and spend a few days with La 
Salle and his men. They are in their canoes, toiling up 
the St. Joseph River and trying to find the Kankakee 
portage, of which they have had information from some 
source. La Salle himself has gone on shore to examine 
the country afoot and alone. Night comes on, with a 
snowstorm ; the canoes are anchored while the men 
wait for their commander, but he does not appear. 
Searching parties go forth up and down the river banks 
and all about through the woods, looking for him, shout- 
ing, firing guns to let him know where they are. Not 
a sign of him is discovered. 

"We all returned toward evening," says Father 
Hennepin in his account, " after unsuccessful endeavors 
to find him." 


The little band now fell into a despondent mood ; for 
if La Salle were indeed lost to them, what could they 
do ? The night passed ; he did not return. Hennepin 
again went in search of him, but all in vain ; he 

came back still more discour- 
aged, and found the men 
much troubled. Late in 
the afternoon, however, 
when they were all .de- 
spairing, La Salle stalked 
into camp as black as a 
negro, tired almost to 
exhaustion, and carrying 
" two animals the size of 
muskrats, having fine 
skins, like ermine, which 
he had killed with a club 
while they hung by their 
tails from the boughs of 
the trees." Of "*\ - course they were opossums. 
It turned out that La Salle in passing around a bad 
marsh had gone beyond hearing distance of the river. 
When night came on with almost blinding snow he had 
trouble finding his way, and it was very late when he 
again reached the bank of the river. There he fired 
his gun. Getting no answer, he trudged on for three 
hours longer, when, seeing the light of a fire on a hill, 
he went near it and called. No answer came, so he 
marched boldly up and found beside the blaze a dry 
bed of grass still warm from the body of a man, who 
had evidently just left it. 


Doubtless it was an Indian who had been scared from 
his lonely couch by La Salle's call ; but the sturdy 
Frenchman did not hesitate to take possession. He 
shouted to the savage in several different dialects, bid- 
ding him come back to the fire. "I'll not hurt you; 
I'm friendly, I'm going to sleep in your bed; come 
back to your place," he cried; but the Indian did not 
accept the invitation. La Salle cut brush and built 
a blind around the fire, after which he lay down in the 
bed and slept. The fire was probably made of resinous 
pine wood, for it smoked La Salle's hands and face to 
the blackness of tar. 

When the canoes had been carried from the St. 
Joseph to the Kankakee, our voyagers paddled away 
down the cold current between marshes and vast, weedy, 
w r et prairies all covered with snow. Their provisions 
were scant, and the only game they were able to shoot 
was now and then a turkey. At last they came upon a 
buffalo stuck fast in the mud by the river's side. They 
killed the poor beast, pried him out of the mud, and 
found his flesh very palatable. 

Another priest, Father Gabriel Ribourde, was in La 
Salle's party during the expedition through Indiana and 
into Illinois. One day this good man, who was old and 
gray, went ashore to take some exercise walking. It 
was lovely weather, and the groves and glades were 
very attractive. He wandered along, enjoying the 
fresh air and the charming scenery. Suddenly a party 
of young Kickapoo warriors, hideously painted, rushed 
upon him and struck him dead. Not satisfied with 
killing him, thev scalped him and afterwards proudly 


showed the white-haired trophy as evidence of their 

The Miami Indians were in possession of the Wabash 
portage at the time of its discovery by the French, and 
when exploring parties and bands of immigrants began 
frequently to pass that way, the shrewd red men gained 
a considerable income by keeping a trained force there 
ready to transport boats and cargoes from one river to 
the other. Indeed, as General William Henry Harrison 
said, the Miamis were " the undoubted proprietors of 
all that beautiful country watered by the Wabash and 
its tributaries." They had villages and farms near the 
present city of Fort Wayne, also on the Wea near 
Lafayette, on the Vermilion, and at Vincennes, not to 
enumerate many smaller places on the Wabash and its 
tributaries all the way from the Maumee to the Ohio. 

The Iroquois Indians were the inveterate enemies 
of the Miamis, and often entered their territory to 
make war upon them. In the year 1680 a notable 
fight took place between two large companies of these 
tribes. The Miamis were hunting in the region of St. 
Joseph River when they were surprised by an army 
of Iroquois, who defeated them with great slaughter 
and carried off about three hundred of their women 
and children. At that time the Iroquois were well 
armed with guns, while the Miamis had but their bows 
and arrows and their war clubs. What followed this 
terrible defeat is a striking example of Indian war 

The Miamis, although far inferior in number and 
equipment, were unwilling to let their wives and chil- 


dren go without a desperate effort to rescue them. 
So they stealthily followed the Iroquois, and when a 
rain came on which would obliterate their tracks, they 
passed far around them and concealed themselves on 
either side of the path their enemies were following. 
With their bows and arrows held ready for instant 
use, they crouched in the tall grass of a prairie and 


waited. On came the happy and proud Iroquois, 
marching at ease, not dreaming of danger, when 
suddenly, out of the silent, motionless grass whizzed 
a flight of deadly missiles, volley after volley in rapid 
succession, and with murderous effect. The Miamis 
did not cease shooting until their quivers were empty. 
Then, shouting the war cry, they flung aside their 
bows, leaped forth from the grass, club in hand, and 
charged. It was a close and terrible fight, but the 


desperate Miamis won, and so retook their families, 
besides capturing all the arms of the Iroquois. 

It was, perhaps, on account of the French having 
furnished the Iroquois and Sioux with guns and am- 
munition that the Miamis first became prejudiced 
against white people. It is certain that Count Fron- 
tenac had great trouble with them because the Sioux 
had been thus favored. As time passed on, with the 
French and the English bitterly and most often unscru- 
pulously struggling for control of the Indian trade, 
almost every possible kind of treachery and double 
dealing toward the savages opened the way to those 
terrible wars which for a hundred years rendered 
pioneer life a scene of deeds and experiences un- 
equaled elsewhere in history. 

When we consider the treatment of the savages by 
the whites, we are tempted to relish the grim humor of 
a remark made by an Indian, to whom a white prisoner 
put a pointed question. " What have. I done," this pris- 
oner demanded, after he had passed through the dread- 
ful ordeal of "running the gantlet" between two long 
rows of Indians who had beaten him with clubs mean- 
while. " What have I done to anger you and cause 
you to treat me thus barbarously ? " " Nothing, that's 
nothing," was the response. " That's just like howdy-do 
to you." 



OT long after the beginning of the eighteenth 
century, although the exact dates have not been 
preserved, Frenchmen, as we have seen, penetrated 
Indiana and Illinois ; and the posts at Vincennes, 
Ouiatenon, and Vermilion, and the portages of the 
Wabash and the Kankakee became in time well known 
to traders, trappers, and hunters. While at that time 
the French assumed to own the entire Mississippi val- 
ley, including all the lands drained by the Mississippi's 
tributaries, the English colonies on the Atlantic coast 
were making large yet indefinite claims to the same 

In order to hold the coveted trade with the Indians 
it was necessary to gain their confidence. The French 
were for a long time singularly successful in doing this. 
Their scattered posts were admirably located, usually 
upon spots originally chosen by the savages themselves, 
and thus they easily and naturally became centers 
towards which the various tribes were drawn when they 
had valuable skins, furs, and the like to sell. 

The missionaries lived with the Indians on the most 
familiar terms, and the traders used every art to gain 
power over them, the main policy being to induce the 

4 1 


savages to leave off barbarous customs, habits, and 
dress, and live somewhat as white men. For, of 
course, if the Indians threw away clothes of skin and 
dressed in civilized fashion, they would have to buy all 
their garments from the French. If they broke up 
their crude pots to use iron kettles, there was another 
item of trade ; and when they abandoned bows and 
arrows and stone hatchets for guns, ammunition, and 
steel axes and knives, see what a gain to commerce ! 
Then there was the savage taste for gaudy trinkets, 
glittering glass beads, tinsel ornaments ; and, above all, 
thirst for rum grew and spread. Cupidity, the bane of 
the white man's life, was thus urged to the highest 
pitch in the hearts of French and English colonists. 

In a short time the Indians began to modify their 
lives to suit these new conditions so cunningly forced 
upon them. Formerly they had hunted for no other 
purpose than to get food and sufficient skins and fur 
for their own use. The supply of game had always 
been abundant. Herds of buffalo innumerable lived 
on the Wea and Grand prairies and amid the vast 
marshes of the Kankakee. Deer, bear, turkeys, and 
prairie grouse, waterfowl, and smaller game of many 
species scarcely seemed to diminish as the years went 
by. But now the greed for new luxuries and the means 
of debauchery stimulated the savage men to hunt for 
the market at the posts. Skins and furs had a value 
measured by what the Frenchman offered. The de- 
struction of wild animals soon reached a stage of inde- 
scribable wantonness and brutality, and the fur trade 
became a source of immense revenues. 


Meanwhile some of the French posts grew into 
straggling villages made up of rude houses built close 
together. Agriculture was not much attended to ; small 
plots for vegetables and melons, a few acres planted 
with Indian corn, and some small orchards of fruit trees 
were the chief evidences of husbandry. The French 
would not eat corn bread, nor have the centuries 
changed them much in this regard ; they still refuse 
it. But from the Indians they learned the value of 
hominy, a dish much used in pioneer days. Pumpkins, 
turnips, carrots, cabbage, and the like were easily 
grown in the new soil, and various kinds of wild fruit 
and nuts could be had for the gathering. 

Jesuit missionaries, the indefatigable priests from the 
days of Marquette and Allouez on down, were at every 
post. From these good men we get most of our in- 
formation touching the early settlers on the Wabash. 
The life of these people was romantic and picturesque, 
looked at from this distance, and some of the descrip- 
tions indicate a free and easy, idyllic existence ; but the 
hardships and privations must have far overbalanced 
the pleasures. The men were rough hunters, trappers, 
traders, guides, adventurers, as much at home on a bed 
of grass in the wilderness as in a house. The women 
were mostly Indian squaws, until the time came when 
men could bring their families to the posts. 

Hard enough was the task undertaken by the priests; 
for as fast as they converted the Indians, the reckless 
traders undid it all. The little log churches held up 
their wooden crosses in mute protest while the de- 
bauchery went on. And finally great trouble began. 


The French in Canada were reaping too rich a harvest 
of furs ; the English colonies, acting in the name of their 
king, were too ready to trespass upon the French claim. 
In time this rivalry ripened into a war between the Brit- 
ish and the French ; first a war for the fur trade, then a 
struggle for dominion over this vast territory of the 
Northwest, midmost in which lay Indiana, unnamed as 
yet, waiting to become a great State. In this struggle 
the British were victorious, and Canada and the North- 
west were surrendered to them by the French. 

And now an Indian chieftain named Pontiac under- 
took to drive the English out of the territory they 
had won. Near the beginning of winter in the year 
1762, this great savage began to organize an army. 
He sent emissaries to a large number of Indian tribes 
inhabiting the territory west of the Alleghanies. These 
messengers bore each a black 
' ^ wampum and a red toma- 
hawk, signifying war, and 
they were instructed to 
arouse the tribes for 
a concerted general 
onslaught, with a 
view to capturing all 
the English forts and 

In an amazingly 
short time these 
arrangements were 
made and the blow 
fell. Nearly all of 


the forts were taken. Pontiac himself, at the head of 
a large force, attempted to get possession of Detroit; 
but his plan failed, and for many months he besieged the 
place. At one time he defeated the English when they 
sallied forth and attacked him. He was at last forced to 
quit the siege on account of expending his ammunition. 
When it was gone, he had no base of supplies to draw 
upon, and so was powerless. He withdrew, still cher- 
ishing his great ambition. 

On the 8th of June, 1765, Colonel George Croghan, 
an English deputy superintendent of Indian affairs, 
was encamped with a small party of men on the north 
bank of the Ohio River, six miles below the mouth of 
the Wabash. At break of day he was attacked by a 
large band of Indians, who killed five of his men and 
took Croghan and the rest prisoners, robbing them of 
all their effects. Colonel Croghan was wounded, but 
his captors forced him to go with them up the Wabash 
valley, tramping through the heavily timbered bottom 
lands, a toilsome journey of seven days to Post Vincennes. 

In his "Journal,'' Croghan gives a graphic, albeit 
not very complimentary sketch of the French inhabit- 
ants of the celebrated post. He describes them as 
lazy renegades from Canada, much worse than the 
Indians. Doubtless his statements were true, in a 
measure at least, for a Catholic priest, writing of the 
place as it was in 1769, said, — "Vincennes on the 
Wabash, although a place of some eighty or ninety 
families, had not seen a priest since Father Devernai 
was carried off in 1763; as a natural consequence of 
this condition, vice and ignorance were becoming domi- 

4 6 

nant." Naturally these Frenchmen looked upon Colo- 
nel Croghan as an enemy and an emissary sent by 
the English to interfere with their Indian trade, and 
this caused them to treat him with contempt. 

From Vincennes Croghan was taken by his captors 
up the river to Fort Ouiatenon on the Wea, just below 
the present site of Lafayette. There he was given 
his liberty. A little later he set out for Fort Chartres, 
and on the way met Pontiac at the head of a large body 
of warriors. The great Ottawa chief was now about 
fifty-three years old, but still straight, nimble, and pow- 
erful, and feeling that his scheme of getting active 
support from the French was no longer to be thought 
of, he was on his way to offer his services to the English. 
Croghan and Pontiac went together up the Wabash and 
on to Detroit, where a peace was made, after which 
Pontiac retired from public life and for three years 
roamed the woods as a hunter. 

But a spirit like that in the breast of Pontiac could 
not be calm. In the spring of 1769 the ambitious chief 
once more journeyed across Indiana and Illinois and 
called upon St. Ange, who was in command at St. Louis. 
It is not known what object Pontiac had in view by this 
visit ; but it ended in his death. An English trader 
named Williamson hired a brutal Kaskaskia Indian to 
assassinate him, paying for the dastardly deed a barrel 
of whiskey. Pontiac was drunk at the time of the kill- 
ing. Truly a regrettable close to a life as heroic as any 
in history. All accounts agree in stating that this great 
Indian was of noble proportions, grand in his bearing 
and looks — a man born to lead. 


IN 1778 Col. George Rogers Clark took Fort Kaskas- 
kia in Illinois and sent from there to Post Vincennes 
Father Gibault, a Catholic priest of great influence 
and noble character, who undertook to win the inhabit- 
ants over to the American cause. The Revolutionary 
War was then in progress between the colonies and 
Great Britain. Father Gibault succeeded perfectly in 
his mission, and the flag of freedom was hoisted, while 
the inhabitants of the place gathered at their little church 
and took the oath of allegiance to the State of Virginia. 
It was an exciting moment. Like a sudden refreshing 
change of the wind was the revolution in local senti- 
ment. The volatile spirits of the French bubbled over 
with spontaneous patriotism. Colonel Clark now sent 
Captain Leonard Helm to take command at the post. 
The Indians round about were pacified, and for a time 
all went merrily enough. 

The State of Virginia, in October of the same year, 
by its General Assembly passed a law declaring that 
all of its territory on the "western side of the Ohio" 
should thereafter be called "Illinois County." But be- 
fore the State's authority could be set up in this region, 
Henry Hamilton, governing Detroit for the British, 


4 8 

went down the Wabash and took possession of Vin- 
cennes in the middle of December. 

As soon as Colonel Clark heard of this movement 
on the part of the British commander, he set about to 
recapture the post. In February, 1779, he sent Cap- 
tain Rogers down the Mississippi and up the Ohio, with 

orders to enter the Wabash and ascend to some proper 
point below Vincennes, and there guard the river with 
a small force, while Clark himself, at the head of his 
remaining army, pressed rapidly across Illinois. There 
was not much fighting. The heroic Clark had planned 
so well, had marched with such rapidity over watery 
prairies, through tangled woods and across swollen 
streams, that Hamilton was taken quite by surprise. 
He surrendered on the 24th of February, amid a fresh 
outbreak of rejoicing from the inhabitants. 


From that day forward until the end of the Revolu- 
tionary War, Colonel Clark held control of the North- 
west. No man did more for our country during those 
perilous and trying times than George Rogers Clark. 
He was one of the truly heroic figures, one of the mas- 
ter spirits in the great struggle for American freedom. 

While directing the movements in the neighborhood 
of Vincennes, Colonel Clark learned that a flotilla of 
British boats was on its way clown the Wabash laden 
with supplies for Hamilton. It was in charge of Philip 
Dejean and consisted of seven large boats with cargoes 
valued at about fifty thousand dollars. Clark acted 
with characteristic vigor and promptness. He sent 
three boats well manned up the river in command of 
Captain Helm and two brave Frenchmen, Francis Bos- 
seron and J. M. P. Legrace, with orders to capture the 
flotilla. Captain Helm had proceeded one hundred 
and twenty miles, when some of his scouts on shore 
brought word that they had seen the British boats com- 
ing. Immediately a plan was formed to lie in wait and 
take them by surprise. 

A narrow place in the river where its current divided 
to flow around an island, and where thickets of willows 
hung over the water, offered a hiding place for the 
American boats, which were armed with small cannon 
(swivels) and well supplied with other effective weapons. 

The British were all unaware that Fort Vincennes 
had fallen into American hands ; they were rowing 
away merrily down the stream, when suddenly they 
found themselves in close quarters. Three boats bris- 
tling with guns and manned by determined patriots 

STO. OF IND. — 4 


swung out in front of them, a swivel's muzzle yawning 
from the bow of each. It was useless to think of fight- 
ing, the chances were all against them ; so Monsieur 
Dejean and his precious supplies fell easily and grace- 
fully into good American hands. 

On the 27th of February, 1779, Captain Helm ar- 
rived at Vincennes with his valuable prize and chap- 
fallen prisoners. Then again did the mercurial French 
population of the old town go wild with delight; for 
Frenchmen, some of their best citizens, had participated 
in the glorious but bloodless victory on the Wabash. 
Indeed, according to Hamilton's report of his surren- 
der, the inhabitants of Vincennes were not willing to 
fight against Clark and his little band of patriots. He 
gave as one of his reasons for making but feeble re- 
sistance that some of the Frenchmen in his garrison 
grumbled at having to " fight against their countrymen 
and relatives, who they now perceived had joined the 

One incident of the attack upon Vincennes casts a 
shadow upon Clark's noble record. While the fort 
was invested, Hamilton having refused to surrender at 
discretion, a party of Indians, returning from the Falls 
of the Ohio, whither they had been in search of scalps 
to sell to the English, were attacked and captured by a 
detachment of Clark's men. A number of these sav- 
ages were placed in full view of the fort and there 
executed by being tomahawked under Hamilton's eyes, 
and then cast into the river. This is substantially 
Hamilton's account, and Clark's letters to a great extent 
corroborate it ; but in these same letters it appears 


that Hamilton's outrageous treatment of Americans was 
well known to the writer, and in a short proclamation 
addressed to the people of Vincennes, Clark calls Ham- 
ilton by the name of " Hair-buyer General," referring 
to his brutal offer to pay liberally for human scalps. 

The little fort of Ouiatenon was the last post on the 
Wabash that gave Clark any trouble. A Canadian 
Frenchman named Celeron was the British Indian 
agent there. A detachment under Captain Helm was 
sent to capture it, which was done without firing a 
shot. Celeron escaped alone. 

Colonel Clark felt that Vincennes was probably the 
most important post east of the Mississippi from which 
to observe and control the Indians, many of whom were 
now well disposed toward the Americans. It was 
his;hlv necessary that he should find out who were 
his friends and who his enemies. To do this, and to 
teach the savages a frightful lesson, he ordered the 
British flag to be kept floating over the fort at Vin- 
cennes, and dressed some of his men in red uniforms. 
This was to deceive any parties of Indians returning 
from scalping expeditions, and cause them to think 
that the English still held the post. 

The ruse was highly successful. Painted warriors 
with bloody scalps dangling at their belts came strut- 
ting boldly into the open fort to claim their pay 
from Hamilton, the " Hair-buyer General." But no 
sooner did they enter the gate than they were promptly 
shot down. About fifty of these scalp-takers were 
thus destroyed in Hamilton's presence. It was a ter- 
rible mode of warfare, and it had a wholesome effect 


upon the savages. Indeed, it was the only method 
by which they could be made to understand that the 
Americans would no longer hesitate to punish them 
without mercy for every act of cruelty or treachery. 

Hamilton himself deserved the same fate, for he 
was worse than any savage whom he hired to do his 
bloody and inhuman work ; but he was held a pris- 
oner of war for some time, and then released on parole. 
He was Lieutenant Governor at Quebec after the end 
of the war, but for all time his chief distinction will 
be the stigma set upon him by Clark — the title of 
" Hair-buyer General." 

In the year 1780 the Choctaw and Cherokee In- 
dians combined to attack Fort Jefferson. This fort 
was in Ballard County, Kentucky. The savages were 


led by a Scotchman named Colbert, and were defeated 
with great loss by the brilliant management of Captain 
George Owens, who was afterwards killed in Indiana 
while on his way from the Falls of the Ohio to 
Vincennes. He was captured by Indians and taken 
to Ouiatenon, where he was burned at the stake in 
a slow fire. 

A very picturesque and interesting figure in the his- 
tory of those early days is that of Simon Kenton, a 
pioneer Indian fighter of remarkable bravery, sagacity, 
and energy. He was born in Fauquier County, Vir- 
ginia, in 1755, and while yet a youth ran away to the 
wild woods of the West on account of a romantic fight 
in which he killed, as he thought, a young fellow who 
was his rival in a love affair. Long afterwards he 
found out that his antagonist did not die, but instead 
recovered from an ugly wound and probably married 
the sweetheart about whom they had quarreled. Ken- 
ton joined Clark and became a trusted guide, scout, and 
spy. Before the capture of Fort Vincennes, or Sack- 
ville, as it was then called, he journeyed alone from 
Kaskaskia to the Falls of the Ohio with despatches 
from Clark. On his way he passed by Vincennes and 
lay concealed in the neighborhood for three days, enter- 
ing the town by night ; and thus he gained valuable 
knowledge of the sentiments and condition of the 
people and of the strength of the fort and its garri- 
son, which he reported to Clark at Kaskaskia. 

About this time Kenton was captured by the Indians 
and forced to run the gantlet eight times ; he was tor- 
tured almost beyond endurance by every method known 


to the heartless savages ; but he was as wily and swift 
as a fox. He bore the agony with calm fortitude and 
finally escaped to inflict dire punishment upon Indians 
wherever he found them. He lived to be eighty-one 
years old and died very poor. The only pay he ever 
received for his heroic services was a bit of land, one 
hundred and eight acres, in southern Indiana, near 
Lexington. One of his kinsmen cheated him out of 
a fine estate in Kentucky. 

At the close of the Revolutionary War, the settlers 
in the Northwestern Territory gradually increased in 
confidence and numbers. The Indians, although still 
restless and often aggressive in certain regions, were 
for a time comparatively quiet in Indiana. From the 
South and East, but chiefly from Kentucky, Virginia, 
and the Carolinas, came a stream of emigrants to 
get possession of the wonderfully rich lands in all 
this great area of wilderness. Men of the greatest 
personal courage were naturally always in the van, 
pushing farthest, taking the chances of border life with 
heroic daring. Nor were the women less brave than 
their husbands, fathers, and brothers. Families sought 
homes in remote, isolated nooks of the forest, despite 
the impending tomahawk and scalping knife, and 
the Indians saw the whites rapidly taking possession 
of all their hunting grounds from the Lakes to the 


ON the 7th of May, 1800, Congress passed an act, 
to take effect on the 4th of July, by which a 
certain part of the Northwest Territory lying " to the 
westward of a line beginning at the Ohio, opposite 
the mouth of the Kentucky River, and running from 
thence to Fort Recovery, and thence north until it 
shall intersect the territorial line between the United 
States and Canada," was set apart as a " separate terri- 
tory," to be called "Indiana Territory," over which 
General William Henry Harrison was appointed to rule 
as governor. 

Accordingly Governor Harrison went to Vincennes 
in 1 801, and took control of affairs. Thus again the 
old French post on the Wabash became a place of 
importance. From a queer little village of backwoods 
huts it was growing into a town with some pretensions 
to civilized life. A few comfortable homes had been 
built, and some families of cultivated taste were among 
the inhabitants. 

About five years after Governor Harrison took charge 
of his office, a new trouble began to threaten. Indeed, 
it was the most remarkable of all the strange things 
(connected with savage life) that we have any account 
of — the advent of a Prophet who foretold, or professed 



to foretell, the total destruction of the whites. This 
Prophet, as he styled himself, was a Shawnee Indian 
named Lolawawchicka, which means " loud-voice," and 
if his voice was not really louder than befitted a crazy 
savage, it certainly reached very far and had a tre- 
mendous effect. 

Lolawawchicka, after the manner of all like pretend- 
ers, began by working upon the superstitious preju- 
dices of those who would listen to him. He soon drew 
about him a band of Shawnees and Indians of other 
tribes, many of them outcasts, vagabonds slinking away 
from punishment for crime, and miserable wrecks of 
debauchery who looked to him for leadership and pro- 
tection. He began in a way to be a preacher, and his 
sermons were of a sort to inflame his savage hearers 
with intense hatred of the whites, and at the same time 
make them believe that the day of their triumph was 
approaching. He told them that he was the Prophet 
of the Great Spirit ; that he could not be killed ; that 
the white man's bullets could not harm him ; and that 
if his followers would do what he told them to do, 
neither harm nor death would ever come to them : they 
would be victorious in every fight and drive all their 
enemies far away out of the country. 

Two years after he began to teach this insidious 
falsehood, the Prophet led his people to a place on the 
Wabash near the mouth of the Tippecanoe. His in- 
fluence grew and spread with great rapidity, until it 
became alarming to all the whites in Indiana, and 
Governor Harrison took efficient steps to find out just 
what it meant. He was not long in discovering that 


the Prophet was but the tool of a man whose genius 
soon startled the whole country. Behind the loud- 
voiced pretender, and using him with admirable skill 
and judgment, was his brother Tecumseh. 

Like Pontiac, Tecumseh had in mind the grand 
scheme of uniting all the Indian tribes in a great war 
upon the whites. He journeyed as far west as the 
Rocky Mountains, he went among the tribes of the 
South, and indeed visited in person all the principal 
Indian villages west of the Alleghanies, urging the 
chiefs to enter into his plan for regaining the lost 
homes and hunting grounds of their people. He was 
a most eloquent orator, and knew well how to work 
powerfully upon the superstitions, the passions, and the 
aspirations of savage hearts. 

Tecumseh was one of three brothers all of the 
same birth, and great things had been expected of the 
triplets. Now he and the Prophet were apparently 
making good the predictions of old Indian wise men. 
From tribe to tribe went the story of how Lolawaw- 
chicka, one of the wonderful brothers, had been ren- 
dered bullet-proof by the Great Spirit ; how by divine 
gift he was able to tell just what the Great Spirit 
desired ; and how by the same endowment he could 
shield all his followers from wounds and death, and 
make them always victorious in battle. At the same 
time the great Tecumseh, another of the triplets, was 
binding all the scattered Indian tribes together in a 
common cause. 

Meantime, the pioneers who were delving in the 
thick woods and on the prairies of Indiana felt the 


danger of the time and often suffered from the inhu- 
man brutalities of the Indians. Every cabin had to be 
built with portholes, every family had to live in daily 
and nightly expectation of the war whoop and an attack, 
or, worse still, of the stealthy approach of sneaking 
scalp hunters. A prominent man among our early 
settlers wrote a graphic description of his experience in 
farming at that time. 

He had a cabin around which he had cleared a few 
acres for cultivation in corn, potatoes, and the like. 
When he went out to plow he took his loaded rifle and 
laid it on the ground with a stick stuck into the earth 
beside it, so that he could know the spot and run to it 
if Indians appeared. In his belt he wore two loaded 
pistols, a tomahawk, and a knife. At night he kept a 
dog in the cabin and another outside. If the dog out- 
side barked, the one in the cabin did likewise and so 
awoke his master. There were portholes through the 
walls of the cabin, one of which commanded the stable 
where the horses were kept. These portholes were 
cut small on the inside and wide on the outside, thus 
giving play to the rifle without exposing the shooter. 
When not in use, the holes were closed by slipping over 
them on the inside thick blocks of wood. 

In such a cabin, perhaps miles distant from any other 
dwelling, lived the man and his wife with a family of 
children. It was so everywhere all over the wild 
country. Little girls and boys became accustomed to 
feeling that each night might be the one for a terrible 
tragedy in which they would fall victims to heathen 
treachery and cruelty. Nor can we, in this day of 


magazine rifles, breech-loading shotguns, and rapid-fir- 
ing revolvers, easily understand how difficult it was in 
those pioneer times to make a defense even when 
armed with the best weapons then made. All guns 
and pistols were single-barreled, muzzle-loading, clumsy 
affairs with flint locks. To load a rifle the shooter had 
first to measure his charge of powder by pouring it out 
of a horn into a charger ; then when he had poured it 
into the gun he next had to lay a piece of cotton cloth 
or a thin bit of buckskin on the muzzle ; upon this he 
placed a bullet which he pressed in as far as he could 
with the handle of his knife. The next move was to clip 
off the cloth or buckskin close to the bullet with 
the knife's edge ; then the ramrod was drawn from 
its groove and " thimbles " underneath the barrel- 
stock of the gun, and with it the bullet was rammed 
down to the bottom of the barrel upon the powder. 
Next, after putting the ramrod back into its groove 
and thimbles, the pan of the flintlock had to be 
primed ; that is, filled with powder. Then, when the 
pan was shut, and the double triggers set, and the 
cock drawn back, the gun was ready to fire. 

But it would be a great blunder to imagine that 
the pioneer's rifle was not a deadly weapon. On the 
contrary, it was very powerful and accurate at short Jk 
range. The savages had great dread of it ; for our * 
backwoodsmen were "dead shots" with those Ion 


heavy, small-bore guns. At any distance within a 
hundred yards, an Indian was doomed when one 
of our grim marksmen aimed at him. The " click " of 
the flint, the shower of sparks into the pan full of 


powder, the keen, spiteful, whip-crack report, and the 
little leaden bullet had found its mark. Yet sometimes 
the flint failed and the lock had to be snapped several 
times before the gun would fire. And woe to the 
pioneer whose powder got damp ! 

While the Shawnee prophet was collecting his fol- 
lowers on the Wea and Tippecanoe, a number of 
families were murdered by the Indians ; and at last 
Governor Harrison gathered a large body of men and 
set out from Vincennes with the purpose of breaking 
up — peaceably if possible, but by force if necessary — 
this dangerous assembly inflamed by the Prophet's 
teaching and stimulated by insidious secret promises 
of aid from Canadian and English traders. 

It was in the autumn of the year 1811; there was 
a feeling that another war with Great Britain could 
not long be avoided. Not only the whites, but the 
Indians as well, were conscious of the threatening 
storm. Everywhere restlessness and anxiety marked 
the movements and countenances of the people. It 
looked as if nothing but bloodshed and turmoil was 
evermore to be the share of the brave men and women 
and children who had sought homes in the West. 

Governor Harrison set out from Vincennes on Sep- 
tember 26, at the head of nine hundred men well 
armed and equipped, marching up the Wabash, while 
boats on the river conveyed his supplies ; and on the 
6th of November he encamped not far from the vil- 
lage of the Prophet. The spot selected was a some- 
what uneven swell of land thinly covered with an oak 
forest, and irregularly triangular in shape. Here, as 


the forces encamped, they faced a wet prairie, and in 
their rear stretched away another with a little stream 
known as Burnetts Creek wriggling across it and wash- 
ing the foot of the high ground. On the banks of this 
stream grew dense thickets of willows and other small 
trees. Not very far away, in front of the army, lay 
the Prophet's town. 

It was a dark and cloudy night. No attack was 
expected, but a strong picket guard was set around 
the camp and every precaution taken to prevent a 
surprise. All went well until four o'clock in the 
morning ; the tired soldiers sleeping with clothes on, 
and with their guns carefully loaded and at hand, 
bayonets fixed, everything ready for fight at a mo- 
ment's notice. 

Meantime the sly Prophet was not idle. In the 
dead of night he silently gathered his warriors and 
led them to the camp of his enemy, under cover of 
darkness, so stealthily that before the picket guard 
saw them they were rushing into the camp, yelling 
like demons. Governor Harrison had just got out of 
bed in his tent, and was on the point of ordering the 
signal for calling out his men when the attack was 
begun. The Indians had greatly the advantage, as 
they were in the dark, while the camp fires of Harri- 
son's army were still burning brightly, thus making 
the men easy targets to shoot at. 

In a short time our army was nearly surrounded, 
and was under fire in front, on the left, on the right, 
and in part of the rear. It looked as though the sav- 
ages in overwhelming force would crush the lines 


in. The time had come to test the Prophet's power, 
and above the noise of the battle his voice arose 
urging his men on and telling them that they could 
not be hurt. But, strange to say, the bullets from 
musket and rifle began to cut the red men down, 
despite the supposed charm under the fictitious pro- 
tection of which they so courageously fought. Poor, 
deluded savages, they fell dying while yet the Prophet's 
words rang in their ears ! 

Although taken by surprise and at first somewhat 
thrown into confusion, our troops did not lose their 
presence of mind, but soon sprang to their places in 
line. The officers were mostly old Indian-fighters who 
knew perfectly well what to do. Governor Harrison 
ordered the fires put out, after which the battle was 
in the dark, each army shooting by the blaze of the 
other's guns. Indians and whites were within ten paces 
of each other, even nearer ; bayonets and tomahawks 
were used, and on all sides the struggle was close, 
desperate, deadly. 

Daylight began to glimmer in the east ; the clouds 
overhead caught a gray tinge, and the oak woods grad- 
ually lost their dense black shadows. All around hung 
the pale smoke of the guns which were yet spitting 
their spiteful fire from out the thickets and from behind 
the trees and logs. On a slight rise amid his warriors 
the Prophet stood, waving his arms, singing a war song, 
and shouting his insane rigmarole of promises, encour- 
agements, and imprecations ; but it did no good. The 
deluded Indians soon felt that his whole treatment of 
them had been basely fraudulent. As soon as it was 


fairly light, the whites charged furiously upon them, 
scattered them, slew many, and drove the rest of them 
into a swamp utterly routed and cut to pieces. It was 
a victory, but a very dear one ; for many a gallant man 
had fallen. 

In this memorable battle, ever since known by the 
name of Tippecanoe, Governor Harrison's forces losr 
sixty-two killed and mortally wounded, and one hun- 
dred and twenty-six wounded who recovered. Among 
the killed were several distinguished officers. 

Tecumseh was not present at the battle of Tippe- 
canoe, being then away among the tribes of the South, 
perfecting his grand plan of a general confederation. 
When he returned and found his people defeated, his 
brother in disgrace, and his town practically abandoned, 
he was greatly enraged ; but he did not forget his cun- 
ning, although in a council near the Mississinewa he 
pretended to Governor Harrison that he intended to be 
friendly ever after to the whites. What he now most 
wished for was time to rearrange his plans. 

Very soon a new opportunity offered, and Tecumseh 
hastened to accept it, to make war upon the destroyers 
of his town and army. On the 18th of June, 1812, the 
United States declared war against Great Britain, and 
the ambitious Shawnee chief hurried away to Canada 
to seek an interview with English officials. He told 
them of the success that he had met with in combining 
the tribes, and offered them his services in the war. 
They were glad to have him on their side, and he 
soon raised a large force of Indians for the British 

6 4 

Meantime the white inhabitants of Indiana were 
suffering greatly from the cruelties of the savages. 
Early in the autumn two men who were making hay 
were murdered and scalped. In what was known as 
the " Pigeon-Roost Settlement " twenty-four persons 
were massacred, and all over the country the greatest 
uneasiness prevailed. Blockhouses were erected, fami- 
lies left their homes, and it looked as if the end of all 
safety and happiness had come. 

On the 4th of September Fort Harrison was attacked 
by Indians, who fired one of the blockhouses. The 
garrison was at first panic-stricken ; but Zachary Taylor 
was in command, and of course could not be defeated. 
After a hard fight the savages were beaten and driven 
off. About the same time a band of Indians surrounded 
Fort Wayne, which stood where the beautiful city of 
that name now is ; but they too were compelled to leave. 

In November, General Samuel Hopkins led a force to 
the Prophet's town and destroyed it ; but he was soon 
forced to retreat, owing to the fact that many of his men 
were almost naked, while the weather had become very 
cold, with snow deep on the ground and the streams 
covered with ice. The Kentucky troops belonging to 
this command were in a deplorable condition. They 
had left home in pleasant weather, wearing linen trousers 
and hunting shirts, which had been torn and ripped into 
shreds, and now, with the temperature almost down to 
zero, what were they to do ? Of course, their suffering 
cannot be described or imagined. The retreat was a 
bitter one to all concerned, and at the end General Hop- 
kins resigned his command. It was during this march 


that a detachment under command of Captain Beckes 
fell into an ambuscade and was cut to pieces, losing 
sixteen killed and three wounded. 

And so, as the war between the United States and 
Great Britain went on, the Indians continued to give 
trouble. On one day some of them would declare for 
peace and promise to bury the hatchet ; but next day, 
perhaps, they would be on the warpath, hideously 
painted and behaving in the most demoniac manner. 

But Tecumseh, the Indian Napoleon, at last had his 
Waterloo. At the battle of the Thames he was defeated 
and killed. He died fighting, as became a brave and 
truly great warrior, leading his men into the midst of 
the battle and encouraging them by his fearless conduct. 
He fell when a desperate charge was made upon his 
line by Colonel Richard M. Johnson's mounted infantry ; 
but what became of his body was never certainly known. 
The Indians always refused to give any information ; 
they would not even admit that he had been killed, and 
to this day the mystery has never been cleared up. 

In his charge upon this occasion Colonel Johnson 
was attacked in person and had a single-handed com- 
bat. His assailant was a noble-looking Indian of com- 
manding stature. Colonel Johnson fired his pistol at 
short range, and the savage fell heavily to the ground, 
apparently killed on the instant. This was supposed to 
have been Tecumseh ; but a curious controversy arose 
on the subject. Colonel Johnson in describing his 
assailant said that he was very tall, large, and powerful, 
with dark complexion and black eyes. In answer to 
this, Colonel William Stanley Hatch declared that 

STO. OF IND. — q 


Tecumseh, for an Indian, had a light-colored skin, and 
that his eyes, instead of being black, were hazel, while 
his height was about five feet nine inches. 

In the light of common sense and ordinary human 
experience, the whole argument is strikingly foolish. 


In the first 

place, let us think a mo- 
ment upon Colonel Johnson's statement. He was mak- 
ing a charge as a forlorn hope at the head of but 
twenty men. He and his little band rushed at full 
speed right into the thickest of the Indian army and 
began the terrible fight under the stress of almost 
certain self-sacrifice, as it looked. Now in the height 
of this furious charge, the Indian confronted Colonel 
Johnson, who most surely just then had something 


more to do than to sit in his saddle and calmly make 
note of the exact height, build, and complexion of his 
dangerous adversary. How could he, at a mere glance, 
while aiming his pistol from the back of a plunging 
horse, make out the exact shade of the Indian's eyes, 
whether black or dark hazel ? Doubtless any savage's 
skin under such circumstances might look a good shade 
or two darker than common ! Moreover, it would be 
quite natural for Colonel Johnson's vision to magnify 
somewhat the size of a warrior thus rushing upon him 
with deadly intent. 

Be all this as circumstances have made it, we can but 
admire the splendid courage and determination of the 
great Shawnee chief. He lies buried no man knows 
where ; but so long as history shall last, his name will 
be one to attract the attention of all who admire true 

The Prophet, after the destruction of his town, was 
no longer a significant figure. His influence had 
departed forever, and he was unable to command atten- 
tion. He is remembered as a pretender whose only 
greatness was the greatness of his fraudulent claims to 
almost divine power, as a prophet whose prophecies all 


HONORABLE Oliver H. Smith, in his book entitled 
" Early Indiana Trials and Sketches," gives the 
outlines of a very interesting incident of the investment 
of Fort Wayne. At that time the whole country in the 
neighborhood of the fort was swarming with Indians, 
and it looked as if they would overpower the little gar- 
rison before aid could reach it. A very critical moment 
arrived when a messenger had to be sent from Fort 
Meigs to Fort Wayne, advising the commander of the 
latter to hold out at all hazards until reinforcements 
should reach him, which would be within a few days. 

There was nothing very attractive in the thought of 
undertaking the work of bearing this important mes- 
sage; but in those terrible days brave men were always 
ready for daring and heroic deeds. No sooner was the 
need of the moment made known than forth stepped 
the man who dared to undertake anything, no matter 
how desperate, in behalf of his fellow-soldiers in mortal 

Most of the distance between the two forts was very 
difficult to pass over, on account of tangled woods and 
marshy prairies. The Maumee River flowed between 
wild thickets, tall forests, and grassy flats, winding its 
way like a lazy serpent. In order to shut off succor 



from Fort Wayne and at the same time prevent the 
garrison from escaping, the Indians had scattered their 
forces, and were encamped in many small groups all 
around a wide circle. The messenger from Fort Meigs 
would have to make his way through this line of in- 
vestment in order to reach his destination. 

It was felt that no man should be sent upon this 
dangerous journey unless he volunteered his services; 
for the chances were a hundred to one that he would 
be killed and scalped, or captured and put to the 
torture of fire. The subject was considered gravely, 
and then a volunteer was called for. William Sutton- 
field, a private soldier, stepped forth and said that he 
was ready to try. He was a small, wiry, resolute man, 
active as a squirrel and tireless as an Indian, a fine 
horseman and well acquainted with the country over 
which he would have to pass. Indeed, he was just 
the man for the occasion, and yet it seemed a pity 
that so excellent a soldier, so brave and so willing, 
should be placed in such terrible jeopardy with so 
little hope of ever coming out of it alive. 

But the despatch had to go, and he must be its 
bearer. So the paper was written and placed in Sut- 
tonfield's boot. The swiftest and best horse among 
those at Fort Meigs was saddled for him. He 
mounted and rode away, his fellow-soldiers bidding 
him good speed and a safe journey, although they felt 
that they would probably never again see him alive 
and smiling as he was when he turned to wave them 
a light farewell just outside the wall of the fort. 

Twilight was fading into darkness when he got well 


on his way. He rode at as fast a gait as he thought 
his good horse able to bear for many hours, keeping 
his course by the stars and by various landmarks 
familiar to him. The route lay up the Maumee River, 
and he had to wind and twist this way and that, in 
order to avoid impassable bogs and dangerous ravines 
leading down to the bed of the stream. No Indians 
were seen, and he had come almost within hearing of 
Fort Wayne before anything unusual happened to him. 
Then suddenly, just as he entered a brushy region, 
some dark forms leaped up all around him. He had 
ridden right into the midst of an Indian camp where 
several noted warriors and a chief named Richardville 
had their temporary quarters. 


i ,! 

A man of Suttonfield's character might be surprised, 
but never dismayed or in the least cast off from his 


self-possession or presence of mind by the predicament 
in which he now found himself. Terrible stress of 
danger did but brace his nerves and quicken his 
powers. In an instant he comprehended the whole 
situation. There was but one thing to do ; he and 
his horse must take their chances upon a bold and 
strong dash for escape. So, without a wink's length 
of hesitation, he bent low over the pommel of his 
saddle and set his horse into a run, bolting right 
through the group of amazed savages, and rushing 
away without regard for obstacles, tearing through 
the brushy undergrowth at breakneck speed. 

The Indians gazed for a moment, not knowing what 
this mad charge of a single white man could possibly 
mean ; but they soon sprang to their guns and began 
to fire at the receding horse and rider. Some of them 
had good horses of their own. Quickly enough they 
mounted and pursued, pellmell. It was a reckless and 
desperate race, in the height of which Suttonfield's 
horse sank belly-deep into the mud of a marshy place 
and could not get out. On came the mounted Indians, 
yelling like mad. Suttonfield leaped from his saddle, 
and, finding the mud stiff enough to bear him up, he 
ran on as fast as his nimble legs could carry him. 
Right into the marsh dashed the Indians, and there in 
the same mud their horses floundered wildly and stuck 

It was now a foot race. One of the Indians, a young 
and active fellow, proved himself a full match for Sut- 
tonfield ; but the latter had the advantage of a good 
start, and he made the very most of it. Fort Wayne 


came in sight just as day had fairly lighted up the 
woods and prairies. Suttonfield redoubled his exertion 
and shouted lustily, hoping to attract the attention of 
the garrison. His foremost pursuer was now gaining 
upon him, tomahawk in hand, ready to give the deadly 

Sentinels looking from the fort saw the approaching 
white man with the straining savage at his heels; but 
they dared not fire for fear of killing the wrong man ; 
all they could do was to fling the gate wide open. The 
Indian saw this, and, fearing to go farther, turned 
about and fled. In rushed Suttonfield and fell panting 
and exhausted, but untouched by bullet or tomahawk. 
After being stimulated and somewhat revived, he took 
from his boot the written communication from Fort 
Meigs. This when read was found to require an im- 
mediate reponse by return messenger. 

And now the question again arose : who would vol- 
unteer ? " I will carry the despatch to Fort Meigs," 
promptly spoke William Suttonfield. " Give me the 
best horse you have." So the message was written 
and safely hidden in the bottom of his boot. The 
speediest horse in the fort was made ready for him, 
the gates were opened once more, and out he rode into 
the clear moonlight of as beautiful a night as ever fell 
in Indiana. He galloped down the Maumee by the 
way that he had come, and, of course, was soon discov- 
ered by the watchful Indians. 

Suttonfield was not taken by surprise on this second 
run, for he knew just when and where to expect the 
attack. His plan was to dash through the line so 


swiftly that it would be hard for his enemies to be sure 
of their aim. They began firing upon him before he 
was out of hearing of the fort ; but he did not swerve 
from his course. He kept his horse at its swiftest 
pace, and went right through the howling mob of Indi- 
ans. Bullets clipped his hat and filled his clothes with 
holes; but not one of them wounded him or his faith- 
ful horse. Again it was a lively race over marshes, 
through thickets, across prairies covered with tall 
grass, and up and down hill, until at last he reached 
Fort Meigs safe and sound. 

Like many another man of strong character, William 
Sutton field was imperious in temper and very much 
inclined to have his own way about every affair with 
which he had anything to do. He afterwards became 
a colonel and did good service, and when the war was 
over he married and had his home at Fort Wayne. 
The close of the war did not, however, make an end 
of Colonel Suttonfield's habit of trying to subject men 
and things to his iron will. When he spoke, he did so 
with a tone and an air of absolute authority and com- 
mand. This caused him some trouble and made him 
some enemies among his neighbors. One man espe- 
cially had a grudge against him. This was a little ill- 
tempered fellow whose voice was like that of a screech 
owl, querulous and squeaking. After some personal 
fallings-out and not a little bickering, the colonel's 
enemy thought he saw an opportunity to vent his 
grudge to the fullest effect. 

Colonel Suttonfield had gone to Indianapolis, where 
the Legislature was in session. Meantime his enemy 


filed an affidavit before a justice of the peace, charging 
him with the crime of marking the prosecutor's hog 
with the intent to steal it. Upon Colonel Suttonfield's 
return he was promptly arrested by a constable and 
taken before the justice for a preliminary trial. Of 
course the colonel was innocent and felt greatly out- 
raged. It was now his turn to act. He 

-« strode into the presence of the rural court 

with fire in his eyes and de- 
manded the cause of his 
arrest. The justice ex- 
plained as best he could. 
" Impanel a jury at 
once ! " commanded the 

This, under the law, the 
justice had no right to do. 
He had jurisdiction only to 
examine into the probable 
guilt or innocence of the 
prisoner and bind him over to appear at the circuit 
court if probably guilty. But Colonel Suttonfield's 
order was obeyed. A jury was called to try the case, 
and only eleven men could be found. 

" Put the prosecuting witness on the jury for the 
twelfth man ! " roared Suttonfield. 

This was promptly done. But the justice did not 
know how to administer the proper oath to the jury. 
Colonel Suttonfield swore them to try the case honestly 
and fairly. No evidence whatever was offered for the 
State or for the defense ; but the jury was called name 


by name to answer "guilty" or " not guilty" as they 
thought fit. Every man answered "not guilty" save 
the prosecuting witness. When his turn came he 
squeaked out " guilty." The colonel then announced 
that the verdict stood eleven to one for his acquittal, 
and the justice arose and said, " It is considered by 
the court that Colonel Suttonfield stands unanimously 
acquitted, except by the prosecutor, who, the court 
considers, was governed by malice prepense and afore- 

Colonel Suttonfield then dismissed the court and 
jury, gave the little squeaking prosecutor a scowl of 
contempt, and walked away. He lived a long while 
after that, and was a good citizen all his life. 

Another incident, which had its touch of grim hu- 
mor characteristic of those troubled days, may fitly be 
added here. A man by the name of George Carter 
had built him a cabin on White River, and was trying 
to open a little farm. He was an odd genius, and 
spent much time, during his evening leisure and on 
rainy days, trying to invent new models of gunstocks 
and the like. In the course of his experiments, he 
put two short, smoothbore old gun barrels into one 
stock, and so made for himself a clumsy, heavy, 
double-barreled gun. But in order to finish it prop- 
erly, he had to set one of the flintlocks into the stock 
in a reversed position. To fire the left-hand barrel, 
he had to push the trigger instead of pulling it. He 
was very proud of this gun, and was in the habit of 
carrying it on his shoulder wherever he went. 

One day Carter was out looking for a bee tree ; 


that is, a tree in which bees had stored their honey. 
His search led him into a heavily timbered part of the 
White River bottom lands. Besides his gun he carried 
a heavy ax, with which to chop down the bee tree 
if he should find it. When two or three miles from 
his lonely cabin, Carter was confronted by a large 
Indian warrior, fantastically painted, who sprang be- 
hind a tree and tried to aim his gun at him from 
that safe cover. But Carter was not to be killed so 
easily; he, too, jumped behind a tree; and now began 
a play of cunning between the two men. The Indian 
tried every trick he could think of, vainly maneuvering 
to get the first shot. 

For nearly an hour this went on — the men sticking 
close behind their trees, only peeping around the bole 
for a momentary glance now and then. At last the 
Indian tried a plan which seemed to work admirably. 
He slipped off a part of his scant clothes, which he 
rolled into a ball about the size of his head, took 
some feathers out of his hair and stuck them into 
this ball, and then thrust it out from behind the tree. 
His purpose was to deceive Carter so that he would 
shoot at the dummy, thinking it the Indian's head. 
This would empty Carter's gun, and the Indian would 
run forward and shoot him before he could reload it. 

Carter saw the false head and instantly understood 
the trick. Then a bright thought entered his mind. 
He raised his heavy gun and fired the left-hand barrel. 
Immediately the Indian darted from behind his tree 
and ran towards Carter, who stood partly covered by 
the trunk of his own tree. 


"You just ought to have seen that Indian's face as 
he came at me," said Carter, telling the adventure 
long afterwards. " He was the picture of perfect, de- 
moniac, hideous delight. He felt sure of me, for he 
saw that I had on no pistol ; and so he strutted along, 
evidently intending to shoot me at perfectly safe range. 
He was probably already imagining how gorgeous my 
scalp [Carter wore long red hair] would look dangling 
at his war belt. But I rather think I changed his 
feelings. When he had come within about twenty 
yards of me, I took deliberate aim at his breast with 
my right-hand barrel. He actually grinned, as if he 
thought I did that only to scare him. Little was he 
to be scared by an empty gun. When I got a safe 
bead on him, I pulled the trigger. The Indian leaped 
high in the air, gave a big grunt, and fell dead. That 
paid me for all the time I had ever spent patching 
up that ugly old gun. It saved my life." 

Not all the dangers of frontier experience came 
from Indians. While, doubtless, the constant fear of 
torture and death, as the savages delighted in inflict- 
ing them, was always uppermost, — especially in the 
minds of women and children, — wild beasts added 
their portion to the uneasiness day and night. Bears, 
wolves, and panthers, when pinched by hunger, were 
very apt to attack defenseless persons, young or old. 
Little children were in danger whenever they strayed 
even a short distance from their homes. All the older 
people now living who have been reared in the West 
have heard their parents and grandparents tell of 
shocking tragedies in the woods, and of hairbreadth 


escapes from the ravenous jaws of these monsters 
always prowling in the vicinity of every clearing. A 
story of this sort was told to the present writer by 
his grandfather, who was himself a western pioneer 
thoroughly trained in all the ways of backwoods life, 
— a noted hunter and fearless explorer. 

A man and his wife, with three children, — a boy 
aged nine and two little girls, the elder seven and the 
younger five years old, — lived in a comfortable cabin 
not far from the eastern line of Indiana. Their near- 
est neighbor was six or " seven miles distant, and all 
around their little clearing stood a wall of dense forest. 
The father tended a small field of corn and vegetables, 
but their main dependence for food was upon the game 
killed by him, so he was often absent all day in the 
woods, hunting deer and turkeys. 

The children were forbidden to go outside the in- 
closure while their father was away, and the mother, 
at the slightest hint of danger, was instructed to close 
the door and bar it and shut the portholes. But even 
in times of such danger, people grew careless and per- 
mitted themselves to take risks in a way quite incredi- 
ble to our minds. Children were restless when confined 
to a cabin or within a small yard, when the green 
woods were but a few steps away with flowers bloom- 
ing and rich mosses growing all around. They con- 
stantly longed to be free, if only for a few moments, 
to wander at will and make playhouses in the dusky 
shade, to climb upon the great logs and watch the gay- 
winged birds flit about in the foliage on high. 

One day in early spring the father went to the woods 


to hunt. Before setting forth with his rifle on his 
shoulder, he particularly charged his wife not to permit 
the children, no matter how much they begged and 
cried for it, to go outside the yard. 

"At this time of the year," he said, "bears and all 
other wild beasts are cross. They wander everywhere 
and are very dangerous when met with. Watch the 

The wife did try faithfully to keep her eyes upon her 
darlings ; but she had many household duties to per- 
form, and so at last she forgot. 

The spring was very early that year, and although it 
was not yet May, the green tassels were on the maples, 
and the wild flowers made the ground gay in places. 
All around the clearing ran a ripple of bird song. The 
sunshine was dreamy, the wind soft and warm. 

The little boy felt the temptation. It was as if a 
sweet voice called him to the wood. Nor were the little 
girls less attracted than he by the thought of gathering 
mosses and flowers and running at will under the high 
old trees. 

Before their mother knew it they were gone. She 
had not yet discovered their truancy when a cry com- 
ing from some distance startled her ; it was her little 
boy's voice screaming lustily, and upon looking out she 
saw all three of the children running as fast as they 
could across the clearing from the wood toward the 
house. Behind them, at a slow, peculiar lope, a huge 
bear followed. 

Frightened almost to death, the poor woman scarcely 
knew what she was doing ; but she had the fighting 


instinct of all backwoods people, and her first motion 
was to snatch off the wall, where it lay in a deer's-horn 
rest, a large horse-pistol. With this in hand she ran tc 
meet her children. Some hunter had broken the bear's 

fore leg with a bullet a 

few days before, which 

accounted for its strange, 

waddling ffait; but it was 

almost within reach of 

the hindmost child when 

the mother arrived. The 

bear at once turned 

its attention to the 

newcomer, and with 

a terrific snarl 

rushed at her. On 

sped the children, 

screaming and 

crazy with fright. 

It was a moment 

of imminent peril to the 

mother ; but she Avas 

equal to the occasion. She leveled the pistol and fired. 

Six leaden slugs struck the bear in the head and neck, 

knocking it over. 

Not very far away in the woods at the time, the man 
heard the loud report, and, fearing that Indians were 
murdering his family, he ran home to find his wife just 
reviving from a swoon. She had fainted immediately 
after seeing the effect of her shot. 

The bear was not yet dead, but a ball from the rifle 


finished him. He was a monster in size. Doubtless 
the wound in his fore leg had made it difficult for 
him to get food, and he had attacked the children on 
account of sheer hunger. But had he not been in 
that maimed condition, his attack would have been 
successful, and the hindmost child would have been 
torn to pieces and eaten up in the shortest time, 
and with little show of table manners. It need scarcely 
be said that for a long while after this narrow escape 
the mother was more watchful, and the children less 
inclined to run away, no matter how fine the weather or 
how attractive the moss and wild flowers. 

STO. OF IXD. — 6 


NOTWITHSTANDING the hardships and worries 
of backwoods life, our pioneers were very reli- 
gious. Ministers of the Gospel who came among them 
were always welcome and were usually treated with 
great consideration and reverent respect. While the 
Catholic missionaries were the first to preach and teach 
among the Indians, and to found churches wherever a 
post could be maintained, they were soon followed by 
zealous and tireless Protestant ministers, who labored in 
much the same way to convert and organize into con- 
gregations both savages and whites. 

It quite frequently happened that these early 
preachers met with strange adventures, and had their 
deadly perils and their almost miraculous escapes. 
Moreover, while traveling from settlement to settle- 
ment, they encountered almost every kind of men, both 
savage and civilized. Nor did all their dangers and 
troubles come from the Indians. Reckless and desper- 
ate white men were hanging along the frontiers, often 
committing heinous crimes in such a way that Indians 
would be accused in their stead. On this account the 
preachers went heavily armed, and were quite ready 
and willing at need to fight with stubborn courage in 



Most of the travel was done on horseback or on foot, 
as it was almost impossible for wheeled vehicles to pass 
through the woods and muddy swamps, the thickets 
and the tangles of fallen trees. Ferries were almost 
unknown, and the streams had to be forded or swum 
by the traveler. In making a long journey the 
preacher often had to wrap himself in his blanket and 
sleep on the ground wherever night overtook him. 
His faithful horse was trained to graze and browse near 
by, and come to him at his call in the morning. For 
food the good man depended largely upon what was 
given him at the cabins he visited ; but he could broil a 
squirrel or a bird, a cut of venison or a slice of pork, as 
well as the best cook in the city. 

As he rode through the lonely wilderness the 
preacher sometimes sang his favorite hymns, making 
the old groves ring with his sonorous voice. 

" How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, 
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word," 

awoke the sleeping owl, or made the shy deer bound 
away over the hills. 

" Am I a soldier of the cross, 
A follower of the Lamb," 

went echoing across the breezy prairies, or stirred the 
blooming sprays of wild plum thickets. 

Baptists were probably the first Protestants to enter 
the western country in very considerable numbers. 
From Virginia and the Carolinas they passed over 
the mountains into Kentucky. Many of them joined 

8 4 

Daniel Boone, the famous pioneer soldier, in his strug- 
gles to possess the " Dark and Bloody Ground." A 
few years later they passed over the Ohio into Indiana, 
making settlements and proving themselves worthy 
and valuable citizens. They sent missionaries among 
the Indians, established churches, and were active 
supporters of the government in all its wars for free- 
dom and the full control of the territory. Indeed, 
the Protestant ministers, following the example of 
the Catholic fathers, were an advance guard in the 

In 1805, soon after the first careful exploration of 
the Whitewater valley, a settlement was begun not 
far from the present city of Richmond, and within a 
few years the Society of Friends, or Quakers, as they 
are sometimes called, had become quite numerous. In 
many other places these simple, frugal, and excellent 
people added a high moral influence to the develop- 
ment of Indiana life. In time Earlham College was 
established and has ever since been a thriving institu- 
tion. Methodists, Presbyterians, and other Protestants 
came also, preaching and praying and doing good in 
the great wilderness. And thus religion developed 
apace with freedom. 

In the year 181 5 Wilson Thompson, a Baptist 
preacher, or elder, as* his denomination preferred to 
call their ministers, came from Ohio into Indiana. He 
was a man of superb proportions ; six feet tall, broad- 
shouldered, extremely muscular, active, and energetic. 
His father had come from North Carolina into Ken- 
tucky with Daniel Boone. There Wilson was born 


in 1788, in Woodford County, on Clear Creek. When 
he was but a young man, he went to Ohio to the 
place where Lebanon now is, and it was from there 
that he first visited Indiana. Afterwards he made 
many journeys through the State, and finally settled in 
the Whitewater country. He became widely known 
as an eloquent preacher, was an early member of the 
State Legislature, and at one time made a strong but 
unsuccessful race for Congress. It is from his state- 
ments that the following sketch of a pioneer preacher's 
experiences and adventures is made up. 

Elder Thompson had only the education obtainable 
by a strong mind during a few months of backwoods 
school and through hard study at home by the cabin 
fire light ; but he knew his Bible and he read the hu- 
man heart more easily than he could peruse a book. 
He was a perfect woodsman, a tireless hunter, and a 
restless seeker after what would build up his church 
and spread its influence far and wide. He wrote some 
religious books of a controversial sort, and his own 
biography from the religious point of view. Yet the 
most interesting parts of his life have never been 

At one time he was making a journey on horseback 
from the eastern part of the State to the Wabash valley. 
On his saddle he had a pair of leather saddlebags, in 
one of which were his changes of clothing, while in the 
other was his food. Crosswise on the pommel he bore 
his long rifle, while strapped to the rear of his saddle 
was a comfortable blanket. At his side hung a coon- 
skin bullet pouch, containing, besides bullets and patch- 


ing, a good supply of punk and flints and a piece of 
steel with which to strike fire. 

The punk used by pioneers was a peculiar dry, 
spongy wood found in the knots on the trunks and larger 
branches of trees. Hickory trees especially furnished 
excellent punk. But the substance was not plenti- 
ful, and so had great value as a necessary part of the 
hunter's and traveler's supplies. It was absolutely 
necessary to keep it dry ; the least dampness rendered 
it useless. Hence it was usually wrapped carefully in a 
piece of buckskin, and carried either in the pocket or at 
the bottom of the bullet pouch. 

To start a fire, a small bit of the punk was held close 
to the edge of a flint, which, when smartly struck with 
a piece of steel, let fall a shower of sparks upon it. 
When one of these sparks took hold, the punk was sur- 
rounded loosely with dry tow or leaves, which were 
fanned into flame by being whirled in the hand. Then 
with dry kindling wood a good fire was soon built, and 
the hungry traveler could broil his venison and parch 
his corn, or roast his " roasting-ear." 

One day about noon Elder Thompson found himself 
on a thinly wooded ridge of land many miles from any 
white settlement. A slow, fine rain was falling, and the 
air was raw and went to the marrow with its chill. The 
trees were dripping, the underbrush was beaded with 
water. Tired and hungry, Elder Thompson stopped 
here to prepare his dinner; but how could he make 
a fire in this rain with all the fuel wet ? His punk 
and tow were perfectly dry; that part of the requisites 
was all right. The trouble was to find wood that 


could be set on fire by the tow's weak and short-lived 

With a light hatchet which he carried in the saddle- 
bags he began chipping and testing every stump and 
log in the vicinity. All were thoroughly water-soaked, 
and he had nearly exhausted his patience when at last 
in splitting open a small beech knot he found the dry 
nest of a mouse, filling a hollow at the center. In 
this he placed the handful of burning tow ; the knot 
caught well and he soon had a fire, by which he 
broiled his last remnants of pork and venison. As 
was his way, he invoked the divine blessing before he 
began to eat this lonely meal, and just then five Indian 
men stalked into his presence and grunted a friendly 

This was very embarrassing, for the good elder saw 
that the savage visitors were hungry and expected to 
join him in the repast. Moreover, Indian etiquette re- 
quired him to offer his food, and he felt it dangerous 
to neglect the formality. Imagine his feelings, then, 
by trying to put yourself in his place, when the five 
stalwart men silently accepted his hospitality and ate 
every morsel of the meat ! 

As soon as they had made an end of the feast, they 
grunted forth thanks and stolidly went their way. 
Elder Thompson continued his journey, hungry, wet, 
and cold, until nearly nightfall. He could see no 
game, not even a squirrel. It is safe to say that he 
remembered his savage visitors with no pleasant feel- 
ing for them ; and now, all of a sudden, they came 
upon him again, well mounted and armed. He was 


not glad to see them ; but they made friendly signs of 
recognition, and one of them spoke, — 

" White man give Indian to eat. Indian give white 
man to eat." 

Thereupon they made a great fire in a hollow, where 

they had a camp, and gave the preacher a banquet, 
took care of him through the night, and next morning 
loaded him with provisions for his day's journey. Nor 
was this more than he might have expected ; for Indi- 
ans rarely if ever failed to be grateful for a kind- 
ness and to return it with interest. Had the elder 
done them an injury, they would have avenged it 
just as rigidly as they rewarded his enforced hos- 

At one time Elder Thompson and his father were 
traveling together in a wilderness, when just at night- 

8 9 

fall the weather fell very cold. They made a fire and 
lay down beside it to sleep. The wind was blowing 
and shifting so that there could be no choice as to 
which side of the fire was safest from the flying of 
ashes and the annoyance of the smoke. In due time 
they were slumbering sweetly; but the elder was pres- 
ently aroused by a peculiar pungent odor like that of 
burning cloth. He rubbed his eyes and looked about 
for the cause, only to discover that his father's coat 
was on fire. The old gentleman was so fast asleep 
that he was with great difficulty awakened, but too 
late to save his coat, which had a hole in it almost a 
foot square. In the elder's own words, "He might 
have put his head through the hole that was burnt in 
his new cloth coat." 

Some of Elder Thompson's journeys were made on 
foot, and he preferred to wear Indian moccasins on 
account of their softness. For long distances through 
swamp lands he was forced to wade in mud and 
water, and in places the only bridges over streams and 
deep ponds were the trunks of fallen trees. When- 
ever he reached a cabin, the poor pioneers made him 
warmly welcome, sharing their scant comforts with 
him and asking him to pray and sing hymns at their 

Often enough there was no sign of a road or path to 
guide him on his way, but usually the lines of travel 
were marked by ax-cuts, called " blazes," on the sides 
of the trees. These chipped spots where the bark was 
removed shone white and could be easily seen at a con- 
siderable distance. The tracks of horses, and occasion- 

9 o 

ally the wheel-marks of wagons, helped to distinguish 
what were then the only highways. 

As early as 18 1 1 Elder Thompson traveled to south- 
eastern Missouri, and lived for a time among the set- 
tlers there. One of his experiences as recorded by 
himself will serve as a typical example of pioneer hard- 
ships all over the Northwest at that time. It will 
clearly show how great has been the forward sweep of 
life, from that time till the present. He and his wife 
found themselves, after a long horseback journey, all 
alone in a single-room cabin, without food, without 
sufficient furniture, and by no means well clad. As 
for money, all they had was a " cut " quarter of a 
silver dollar. In those days, when small change was 
needed, silver money had to be cut into pieces with 
an ax or chisel. The fragments passed current at their 

Elder Thompson did not despair, as many a man 
would have done. He went to the nearest store, which 
was a long distance away, and spent his twenty-five 
cents for powder and lead. Then, having cast some 
bullets for his rifle, he went forth in search of game, 
and was fortunate enough to kill a brace of turkeys and 
a deer. A kind neighbor loaned him some meal and a 
piece of bacon. Thus they began to live. 

Once, while on his way through a dangerous part of 
the country, having his wife and a young baby with 
him, he chanced to ask for lodging at a lonely house 
where foul murder had been committed only a short 
time previously. It was a dark night, and the elder's 
wife was greatly fatigued. All day long she had ridden 


with the baby in her lap. It would be such a comfort, 
she thought, to rest on a bed, no matter how hard and 
uninviting. But as soon as they entered the cabin, the 
elder knew that he had made a great mistake. He 
had been warned against this place. It was believed 
that many travelers had here been murdered and 
robbed. Certainly one man was known to have lost 
his life by trusting to the hospitality of the place. 

Elder Thompson, for a wonder, had no efficient gun 
at this time, the old musket he carried having a broken 
lock. When he called at the house and asked for lodg- 
ing, a brutal-looking man bade him welcome. Several 
other ruffians appeared soon after, and began to act 
in a mysterious, furtive way, as if they had some 
secret about which it was necessary to hold whispered 
consultations. Elder Thompson felt the need of great 
self -composure and presence of mind. To appear afraid 
or suspicious would be sure to bring on violence. So 
he put on a bold front and took his wife and child and 
all his baggage into the room assigned to him. 

What made the situation an uneasy one at best was 
that in his saddlebags he had several hundred dollars in 
coin which belonged to a relative ; and he had seen one 
of the ruffians lifting the saddlebags as if to guess at 
their weight. That was a terrible night ; but the elder 
was quite equal to what was demanded of him. When 
the men produced a large bottle of whiskey, he pre- 
tended to drink with them, all the time watching every 
movement they made. In due time they fell upon the 
floor drunk, and the elder and his wife escaped. A 
little later another traveler was killed and robbed at this 


house, after which the desperate occupants disappeared 
to avoid the punishment of the law. 

On this journey of four or five hundred miles through 
the wilderness, Elder Thompson and his wife spent 
many nights beside a camp fire, sleeping on the ground, 
the baby snug in its mother's arms, while the wolves 
yelped and howled close by in the prairie grass, or in 
the thickets of underbrush. And yet all three slum- 
bered sweetly until daybreak. 

Elder Thompson was so fond of deer hunting that 
his chief regret, when once he fell very sick, was that 
he could not roam the woods with his gun. His illness 
was long, and it reduced him almost to mere skin and 
bones ; he was so weak that he had to be fed with a 
spoon ; he could scarcely lift his head. One day his 
wife, standing at the cabin door, saw a deer leap the 
fence of the turnip patch, and begin nibbling at the 
vegetable tops. Thoughtlessly she spoke, saying, " Oh, 
see that deer ! " 

" Where ? " feebly yet quickly demanded the elder. 

" In the turnip patch," was the reply. 

Without another word, and with amazing activity, 
Elder Thompson sprang out of bed, snatched his 
loaded rifle from its rack on the wall, and ran forth ; 
but the deer took fright, and fled before he could shoot 
it. Then instantly all strength was gone from the 
elder's legs, and he let fall his gun, at the same time 
tumbling down limp and pallid upon the ground. He 
had to be carried into the house and put to bed, where 
he lay for many days. 

One of his adventures with a deer he told often 


to listening grandchildren in his old days. His larder, 
on a cold January day, was found to be empty, so he 
shouldered his trusty rifle, to which he had given the 
name of "Old Spread" (on account of a spreading of 
the bore at the muzzle), and went into the woods. 
He was about a mile and a half from home when he 
saw a magnificent buck lift its antlers above a low 
clump of underbrush fifty yards away. Here was his 
opportunity for venison, and with steady aim he fired. 
Down fell the deer. Apparently, the shot had done 
its work well ; but when Elder Thompson approached 
his game and took hold of its horn, up it leaped, with 
such vigor that it dashed him flat upon his back. 
By the time that he was on his feet again, he saw the 
deer a little way off behaving strangely, as if some- 
what confused. It was going round and round in a 
small circle with its head to one side. 

Elder Thompson drew his long hunting knife, and, 
boldly approaching the deer, seized its horn once more, 
and attempted to cut its throat ; but again he was 
knocked down, though still not hurt. After a few 
short bounds away, the deer turned about and came 
charging back, horns down, straight upon the elder, 
who had risen to his knees. There was no time to 
lose ; the stroke of those horns would be deadly. Ten 
feet distant stood a large tulip tree, and toward this 
the elder sprang in a great hurry, reaching it and leap- 
ing behind it just in time to avoid the thrust of the 

And now began a struggle by no means less dan- 
gerous to the hunter than if a panther had been his 


pursuer. Round and round that tree they sped, the 

maddened deer and the fast-tiring man. How was it 

to end ? Elder Thompson was too closely pressed to 

r ~ be able to turn about ; and even if 

he could have done this, his arm 

was too short to reach past the 

deer's horns to a vital point. 

But the strain was too great to 

last. Both deer and man soon 

began to weaken. At this 

point the elder, calling 

upon his immense reserve 

of muscular force, sud- 

y denly redoubled his 

- speed, and, falling 

•jgk ) forward, clutched 

one of the buck's 

./ hind legs with his left 

hand. That grasp once 

fixed never was loosed until the vicious and badly 

wounded animal was stabbed to death ; and, after all, 

a fine supply of venison went to the elder's cabin. 

Elder Thompson died in 1866, after having lived 
to see Indiana grow from a savage-haunted wilderness 
to a great and prosperous commonwealth. In his later 
days he often preached to audiences of ten thousand 


ON the 13th of May, 18 16, an election was held in 
Indiana Territory by which delegates were chosen 
to meet in convention and frame a State constitution. 
The vast area which was included in Indiana in 1800 
had since been reduced to the present limits of the 
State by the formation of new Territories; yet in 
1 8 16 Indiana Territory had a population of free white 
people numbering nearly sixty-four thousand. The 
convention met at Corydon with delegates from all 
the counties, and a constitution was duly framed, under 
which a general election was held on the first Monday 
in August. Jonathan Jennings was elected governor 
of the State of Indiana, and took his oath of office 
on November 7, 18 16, at Corydon; and on the nth of 
December following, Indiana became a State of our 
Union and her star went to its place on the nation's 
flag. To that flag Indiana has always been true. 

Early in the history of the Northwestern Territory 
an effort had been made to exclude slavery ; for there 
was a considerable number of the settlers who felt that 
the future of the country would be greatly endangered 
by the establishment of involuntary servitude in the 
West. On March 1, 1784, Virginia ceded the North- 
western Territory to the United States, and on the 13th 
of July, 1787, Congress prohibited slavery in the Terri- 


9 6 

tory. But slavery continued, nevertheless, directly in 
defiance of congressional enactment, and, at the time 
when the subject of statehood for Indiana began to be 
freely discussed, it was necessary to face the situation 
and have the vexed question permanently settled. Just 
across the Ohio lay the State of Kentucky, in which a 
great many negroes were lawfully held as thralls. In- 
diana as a State must be either free or slave; the choice 
must be made and fixed in the constitution. 

On the 14th of December, 181 5, the Legislature 
of Indiana Territory addressed a memorial to the na- 
tional Congress in which it was clearly stated that 
slavery was not desired as one of the institutions of 
the proposed commonwealth, and in his first message 
to the Legislature Governor Jennings recommended a 
law for the protection of free persons of color. Indeed, 
from the beginning of civilization in the great North- 
western Territory, slavery had but feeble foothold, and 
when Indiana became a State freedom was fixed in her 
organic law. 

From the date of admission into the Union, Indiana 
was quite free from savage warfare and depredations. 
Population increased rapidly, — a tide of immigration 
setting in from all the older States, — and, although 
most of our people were poor, a period of prosperity 
and happiness followed. The Indians had become 
poor, disheartened, and not a little lazy and dissolute ; 
so that the only trouble they made was due to the 
impossibility of civilizing them. Gradually they were 
induced to go out of the State, until at last only a 
small remnant was left of all the tribes. 


It was not long after the commencement of this 
new life that men of great energy and ability began 
to urge upon the people's attention the subject of 
public improvements. Good highways were needed, 
navigation demanded encouragement from the com- 
monwealth, and proper aid must be given to the es- 
tablishment of a school system. Even before any 
legislative enactment on the subject of education, the 
people had begun the work. Cabins once used for 
blockhouses were taken for school and church pur- 
poses, and in most of the settlements schoolhouses 
were built. 

But public improvements were extremely difficult to 
make in those early days. Money was scarce, and 
the undeveloped condition of the country offered great 
obstacles. High taxes could not be borne, nor were 
the people ready to assume a large debt. Still, if 
agriculture could not have an outlet for its products, 
there could be no prosperity. All the rich land in 
the interior of the State was practically worthless 
without a means of transportation. As for the roads, 
they were almost impassable during a large part of 
the year, as may be seen by the light of the following 
description, taken in substance from the statements of 
travelers who passed through Indiana in every direc- 
tion between 1818 and 1821. 

In driving a very light two-horse wagon with but 
a scant amount of household furniture for its load, 
it was often necessary to take out every piece of this 
lading and carry it over long stretches of mud, while 
the horses could scarcely flounder through with the 

STO. OF IND. — 7 


empty vehicle. What was called corduroy — that is, 
a road made of logs laid side by side at right angles 
to the line of travel — was the best improvement then 

. . known, and over this 



the wagon bumped and 
jolted for miles. There 
were a few ferries 
across the larger 
streams, but even mere 
creeks were for a large 
part of the year al- 
most impassable. 
From the line be- 
tween Ohio and In- 
diana to a settlement 
not far from Terre 
Haute, a great part 
"^ » of the road was only 

a blazed *?fr ' line ; and the way had 

to be cleared \ by cutting down trees, 

removing logs and underbrush, and opening a track 
through dense brakes. Frequently a mile was a good 
day's journey. 

We can easily imagine the difficulty in the way of 
marketing agricultural products under such circum- 
stances, especially where the settlement was at a 
great distance from a navigable stream. Cincinnati and 
Louisville were the chief marketing points, whither 
most of the surplus of grain and other farm produce 
found its way. But either of these places, then small 
and ill-supplied with means of transportation, was so 


far away from the interior of Indiana that it was a 
long, wearisome, and laborious journey at best, choose 
whichever the pioneer might. New Orleans, indeed, 
was the great port of the Mississippi and Ohio val- 
leys, and from the earliest days of western settlement, 
a visit to the famous ''Crescent" city was the chief 
desire of every one who dreamed of travel. 

The Wabash River was navigable for light-draft flat- 
boats and keel boats, during a large part of the year, 
far above Lafayette. White River and a number of 
smaller tributaries were used as channels by which to 
reach the Wabash, and all the available streams fall- 
ing into the Ohio were similarly utilized. Indeed, flat- 
boating was one of the most profitable and picturesque 
features of early commercial activity. A journey or 
" voyage," as it was called, from Terre Haute, Vincennes, 
or Lawrenceburg to the far-off city of the Creoles set in 
the warm lowlands of Louisiana, was an experience full 
of lively adventures and constantly enriched with lovely 
variations of scenery. Long after the introduction of 
steamboats, this means of navigation was very profitable 
to the hardy men who pursued it as a vocation. 

Flatboating was a very simple business. Late in 
summer or early in autumn, according to the cargo in 
view, a boat was built and launched. It was a rough 
piece of work, being scarcely more than a large, shallow, 
flat-bottomed scow, with a sort of house amidships. A 
long steering oar at the stern and a sufficient number 
of side oars constituted the propelling machinery. The 
boat was loaded at a rude wharf, and for most of the 
voyage the current of the river was depended upon 


much more than the oars to bear the craft along its 
way. The crew usually consisted of the owner of the 
boat and a number of hired men. 

In 1 8 12 the first steamboat passed down the Ohio 
from Pittsburg and went puffing and wheezing all the 
way to New Orleans. This was the beginning of a 
new era of prosperity in the West and South. But 
steamboats did not immediately interfere with the busi- 
ness of flatboating. On the contrary, a strong impetus 
was given to it. The flatboatman could now voyage 
leisurely down to New Orleans, there dispose of his 
cargo, sell his boat for what it would bring, and return 
with his pocketed profits on board a steamboat. 

The Ohio and the Wabash now became immensely 
important to Indiana. Almost every road led to their 
banks, where flourishing little towns soon grew up, and 
where every sort of trade useful to the country showed 
great activity. But the roads themselves were bad al- 
most beyond what is credible. An enterprising man 
living in the interior of Indiana, when he made up his 
mind to try a speculation in the way of buying a cargo 
of produce and shipping it to New Orleans, found his 
undertaking one of great hardships and worries, not to 
count the actual dangers. But such a venture had its 
mighty fascination, and not unfrequently the specula- 
tor's family went with him on the long, slow voyage. 

While the flatboat was being built at the most con- 
venient point on the river, wagons were hauling the 
prospective cargo to the spot, where it was safely 
housed ; and when all was ready, the loading began. 
Meantime the owner's family had made a long trip in a 


covered wagon over the hills and across the prairies 
and through the swamps, arriving at the place of em- 
barkment worn and tired, but eagerly looking forward 
to the day when they should be afloat. 

The accommodations of an ample flatboat were by 
no means cramped as compared with what dwellers in 
log cabins were accustomed to. The family had a 
small sleeping room well sheltered, and the deck 

afforded space for open-air life in good weather. With 
plenty of provisions, good health, and the constant 
stimulus of ever-changing and novel scenery, every 
person on board found the voyage delightful. Of 
course rainy weather often interfered with the full en- 
joyment of the outdoor scenes, and sometimes a wind- 
storm would force the boat to seek shelter in some nook 
of the shore until the danger was past. 


The voyage to New Orleans usually began when 
the weather in Indiana was growing cold. The long 
winter was coming on, with gray days and icy winds 
from the northwest ; but there was not yet any ice in 
the Wabash or in the Ohio or its smaller navigable 
tributaries, and what was most desired was to get be- 
yond the freezing line before any ice obstruction could 
form. All hands, therefore, were kept actively at work 
until the boat crept out of the mouth of the Ohio and 
turned its prow southward down the broad current of 
the Mississippi. 

And so for weeks and months the cheerful voyagers 
floated on their way. A few small towns had grown up 
by the great river's side. At these the boat stopped, 
sometimes for a week's sojourn, while the owner and 
his family enjoyed the hospitality of the best inhabit- 
ants. Dances and dinners were given in their honor, 
provided they bore letters of introduction from well- 
known persons, and the long journey was thus made 
very attractive in a social way. Day after day the 
winter weather of the North gave place to softer sun- 
shine and balmier winds. Along the river's banks the 
perpetual green of a southern climate began to show 
itself instead of the leafless, frost-crisped trees to which 
the voyagers had been accustomed. Flocks of water- 
fowl haunted the still bayous or overflow lakes, or flew 
overhead in vast cloudlike bodies. Deer were often 
seen at the water's edge, browsing amid the green cane- 
brakes. At that time there were no levees, and in 
many places the river spread out over miles of country 
now in cultivation. 


Late in winter, perhaps, the flatboat reached New 
Orleans after stopping at Natchez Under the Hill and 
at various Creole landings farther down. It was a 
memorable experience, this arrival at the metropolis of 
the Mississippi valley. Our " Hoosier " family found 
themselves in the midst of a people quite strange and 
interesting to them. On every side they heard the glib 
speech of the French traders, and the soft patois of the 
colored people. Every sight, every sound was novel 
and attractive. It was quite easy to sell the boat and 
the cargo, usually at most profitable prices, and so, 
after a delightful stay in the city, the return home was 
made in good time on a steamboat. Nor need it be 
doubted that the family which had made such a voyage 
with success came back among their friends in Indiana 
with glowing accounts of their experiences. Hoosiers 
who had traveled so far and seen so much were looked 
upon as fortunate indeed. 

At just this point it is well enough to say 
that the nickname " Hoosier," as applied to 
Indiana people, is of uncertain origin. It has 
been said that it arose out of the backwoods- 
men's pronunciation of the word "here," 
which was "yer." When a stranger 
knocked at the door of a cabin in Indiana, 
the inmate would clutch his gun and pistol, u '% 
and, going close to the shutter, would call 
out: "Who's yer?" In time the name 
"who's yers " was fastened upon the inhab- /| 
itants of the State. Doubtless this expla- 
nation is based upon a clever guess ; but /' 

io 4 

in the absence of a better story it will serve its purpose, 
and will let the historian escape from an enforced con- 
fession of ignorance. 

But if the inhabitants of Indiana who dwelt far off 
from any navigable stream had the worst possible means 
of marketing their produce, they yet were able to live 
in reasonable comfort. They had plenty to eat — vege- 
tables, fruits, excellent bread, pork, and game ; they 
grew flax, spun it, and wove their linen cloth ; they 
raised sheep, from the wool of which they made their 
winter clothing ; so they had small need of money. 

A few of the old-time spinning wheels, the small 
ones with treadles, the large ones to be turned by hand, 
are still preserved as curiosities ; and at wide intervals, 
in the rural nooks distant from railroads, the old hand 
loom may be seen under its lean-to shed behind a 
cabin ; but the day of these primitive engines of do- 
mestic industry is over. Along with the maul and 
wedge for splitting rails, and the heavy cradle for cut- 
ting grain by hand, many other implements suited to 
backwoods civilization have disappeared. The flat- 
boat lingers dolefully on the rivers, and even steam- 
boats have lost their old-time splendor; but it is well 
to remember the steps by which we have made the 
great progress of the past seventy or eighty years. 

And this mention of flatboats, mauls and wedges, 
and rail-splitting somehow calls up the name dearest 
to Americans, reminds us of the greatest man of mod- 
ern times and, perhaps, of all times — Abraham Lin- 
coln, whose life in Indiana we will sketch in the next 


IN the year that brought statehood to Indiana, 
Abraham Lincoln's parents came from Kentucky 
to Spencer County. The southern part of the State 
was then but thinly settled, and its inhabitants were 
mostly simple, ignorant, honest people, who gained a 
livelihood as best they might by farming. Spencer 
County was no better, no worse, than the average 
of " river counties" in those days. It had its rough 
element, its flatboatmen, its rude knights of fortune, 
and, possibly, its outlaws ; but the sturdy American 
citizen of upright conduct and honest aspiration was 
strongly in the majority. 

At that time Abraham Lincoln was a boy seven years 
old — a tall, lank, bony lad, whose features wore a look 
of premature wisdom. His parents were very poor 
people, belonging to the class called by the negroes of 
Kentucky " po' white trash " ; but they were honest, 
and Abraham himself showed from earliest childhood 
that strain of unchangeable probity, and that fixed pur- 
pose to make the most of his life, which in later years 
bore him to the highest seat of honor and greatness. 
He might easily have chosen the career of John A. 
Murrell, the outlaw, who went from Kentucky to be- 
come the terror and the scourge of Mississippi and 

l °S. 


Louisiana. In that case he would have died in dis- 
grace, cast out of respectable history, a miserable wreck 
of what had once been a strong and capable man. But 
Lincoln, though distressed with poverty, and cut off 
from almost every opportunity to get an education and 
to cultivate his manners with a view to an influential 
life, yet held himself firmly to duty and to honor. 

The best part of the training that Lincoln had re- 
ceived before coming to Indiana was what had resulted 
from being subjected during infancy and early child- 
hood to hardships, frugal diet, humble surroundings, 
and direct contact with the elemental forces of nature. 
In cold weather he had to feel the cold, in hot weather 
the sun beat upon him ; the winds blew down the 
cabin's " stick-and-dirt " chimney, the snow and the rain 
sifted in through the loose clapboard roof ; there were 
no napkins on the rough table where he ate; doubtless 
his fingers did service in place of a fork ; table manners 
were not much understood ; dining room, kitchen, bed- 
room, parlor, were all the same room. From year's end 
to year's end, day in and day out, the round of labor 
repeated itself. He saw his father work, his mother 
work, the whole family work, only to gain a slender 
supply of the coarsest food and the most humble 
apparel. Instead of accumulating property and the 
means of comfort, the Lincolns barely lived, barely 
secured from day to day what would keep off hunger 
and avoid nakedness. 

From his eighth year onward until he was twenty- 
one, when he left Indiana to live in Illinois, Lincoln 
steadily struggled to get the rudiments of a useful edu- 

cation. He was sent to school a little, and he managed 
to study a great deal at home. But he felt the necessity 
of knowing how to work as well as how to read and 
cipher. He did not, as so many students have done, 
make a mere bookworm of himself. There was no 
kind of work much in demand in his neighborhood that 
he did not quickly learn how to do, and to do better 
than other boys of his age could ; and by this versatility 
he was nearly always able to find employment. Nature 
had given him a powerful frame ; he grew to be six 
feet four inches tall, with great muscles and strong 
bones and sinews. 

Many persons have eagerly borne testimony to Lin- 
coln's industrious habits and trustworthy character 
during his stay in Indiana. He was also a leader in 
boyish plays and sports, and liked to wrestle and to 
show his superior strength in various athletic tests. It 
is said that he never found his match at lifting, wood 
chopping, rail splitting, or wrestling. He worked as a 
carpenter and cabinetmaker, and some of his handi- 
work in this line is still preserved. In those days saw- 
mills were scarce, and planks were cut from the log 
with what were called whipsaws. Lincoln was for a 
time a whipsawyer. Indeed, he was everything and 
anything where an honest job of work could be had 
by a strong, faithful, courageous young fellow. Yet all 
the while he had an eye upon books. How he learned 
so much as he did is hard to make out ; but the genius 
in him found its way. 

Schools and churches were far apart in the new 
country where so lately scalping parties of Indians 


had roamed ; still, Lincoln fell into the way of going 
to hear a sermon whenever he could. A walk of several 
miles, no matter what sort of weather it chanced to 
be, was nothing to him. His long legs never seemed 
to tire. No doubt even then he was learning from 
the shrewd and often witty and eloquent backwoods 
preachers that command of simple, homely turns of 
speech which in his later years made him an almost 
irresistible advocate and political orator. 

He was always delighted with a good story, joke, or 
anecdote. When he heard one, he never forgot it, 
and he became an inimitable story-teller himself, which 
made him the life of every company he joined. Every- 
body called him " Abe," and treated him with familiar 
friendliness ; but not a few thoughtful persons saw his 
superior mental qualities while he was yet but a boy. 
They often saw him sitting alone deeply absorbed in 
studying a book that he had borrowed, or poring over 
some mathematical problem. He studied land survey- 
ing, so that he was able to trace the lines of real estate 
and calculate areas. Moreover, his imagination led him 
to try poetry, and some of his rhymes have been pre- 
served; but he was so full of humor and the jocular 
spirit that most of his verses were good-natured satire 
upon persons who chanced to provoke his efforts in 
that way. He was never bitter or ill-tempered or self- 
ish in the least ; but he would fight at need, and when 
roused was not to be easily handled. 

At one time young Lincoln was a clerk in the store 
of a merchant, where he made himself both popular 
and useful. His jokes and stories drew people to him 


whether they wished to trade or not. His employer's 
goods boxes were duly whittled while the fun went on, 
and the future statesman found it easy to make and 
hold friends, as, in fact, he did throughout his life. Yet 
with all his jollity and hearty friendliness toward every- 
body, Abraham Lincoln was diffident and shy in soci- 
ety, and at times he appeared to be absent-minded, even 
despondent. Doubtless life, when he faced it seriously, 
looked hopeless enough ; for what could he expect ? 
What promise was held out to a youth so awkward, 
so ungainly, so ignorant, so poor ? It seems that he 
did not dream that he might some day be a great man. 
Long after he had succeeded as a lawyer in Illinois, 
he said, in conversing with a friend, that even when 
he was a grown-up man it never came into his mind 
that he " had sense enough " to practice the profession 
of law. 

He intuitively felt, however, that the way to a higher 
career lay through study. He knew that education 
gave advantages not to be commanded by the ignorant, 
and his hard experience early taught him that there 
was no royal road to useful knowledge. Moreover, a 
taste of books had inspired him with a sense of what 
riches might be stored up in his brain by reading and 
thinking. The lives of great men fascinated him, as 
did also the history of governments and peoples. 

But the boy Lincoln was a genuine boy, and had his 
faults, like other boys. A wedding party to which he 
had received no invitation called forth from him, as a 
salve for his wounded feelings, a rhymed lampoon 
leveled at the Grigsbys, in whose house the wedding 


was celebrated. This was not a dignified thing on 
his part, but it pleased a good many people and did 
no harm. It shows, however, that he could resent a 
slight, and that he possessed in those boyish days the 
rudiments of a satirical gift which long afterwards 
served him so well in public debate with the brilliant 
and engaging orator, Stephen A. Douglas. 

He was as generous as he was resentful, even more 
so ; for he was often known to forgive an enemy, and 
to do good to those who had injured him. To girls 
and women he offered those gentle considerations 
and compliments by which you may safely measure 
the heart of a man or a boy. He had a stepmother, 
to whom he was as faithful, kind, and loving as if 
she had been his own mother. She herself testified 
to this by saying : "Abe was a good boy. . . . Abe 
never gave me a cross word or look, and never refused 
in fact or appearance to do anything I requested 
him. . . . He was a dutiful son to me always. . . . 
Abe was the best boy I ever saw, or expect to see." 

To show Lincoln's generous nature, a little story is 
told of what he did for a girl who was opposed to him 
in a spelling match at school. It must be explained 
that in those spelling matches of the old-time log-cabin 
school, the pupils were permitted to range themselves 
in two opposing rows of spellers. Beginning at one 
end of this battle array, the teacher gave out words 
to be spelled. If a contestant on one side failed to 
give the correct spelling, one on the other side had a 
chance to spell the word. If he succeeded, the oppo- 
nent who had missed had to sit down and could try no 


more. The side that spelled all the other side down 
won the victory. These contests were very spirited, 
and as they came off once a week, great study and 
preparation were made for them. Every ambitious 
student was anxious to be the champion speller, and 
so be left standing alone when all others had been 
forced to their seats. 

Young Lincoln was hard to beat in a game of this 
sort. In fact he was the best speller in school. One 
day when a match was on he stood opposed to a girl, 
when the teacher gave out the word "defied." Some 
one down the line failed to spell it. Another and 
another missed, and then it came the girl's turn. She 
knew that if she failed 
in her trial Abe 
Lincoln would spell 
her down. Doubt- 
fully she began with 
"d-e-f," and then hes- 
itated which letter 
next to choose, an 
"i" or a "y." She 
glanced at Lincoln. 
Very carelessly, but 
with a droll, signifi- 
cant grin, he placed 
a finger on his eye. 
She knew what he 
meant ; he was sac- * 
rificing his chance of 
spelling her down. She 


chose the correct vowel and kept her place. We may, 
with unflagging admiration and regard for the gentle 
sex, have some doubts whether the girl ever lived who 
would have done that thing for a boy ! 

Some of Lincoln's friends predicted his future suc- 
cess ; but none of them was daring enough to think 
how great he was to be. One day 
a Mr. Lamar and his son John 
were going to mill. It was very 
hot weather, dusty in the road, the 
sun blazing in a summer sky. As 
the two rode along astride of their 
grists of corn, they saw Abe, then 
a boy of ten or twelve years, sitting 
on the top rail of a worm fence, 
— * reading a book. He was 
-^ so deeply interested in 
what he was studying 
that he did not hear the 
horses' feet. " John, 
look at that boy," said 
Mr. Lamar to his son, 
" and mark my words, he'll 
make a smart man of him- 
self. I may not see it, but 
you'll see if my words don't 
come true." They did come 
true, of course, and Mr. Lamar's son lived to see the 
boy's triumph over every obstacle in his way. 

This habit of thoughtful reading grew upon Lincoln 
as his life strengthened. He borrowed books of his 


friends, for he was too poor to buy them ; nor did he 
make choice of frivolous literature. From the first he 
went seriously at the business of informing his mind. 
What he hungered for was wisdom, not mere idle enter- 
tainment. The plebeian lad possessed the rare, pure 
taste of a nature molded for large and valuable works. 
One of the first books that he borrowed and read was 
Weems's "Life of Washington." To him this was 
more interesting and satisfying than any novel or ro- 
mance. The calm, steadfast courage and. perseverance 
of Washington doubtless deeply impressed the boy's 
mind, and helped to shape his destiny. 

Abraham Lincoln was twenty-one years old when, 
with his father's family, he left Indiana to make his 
home in Illinois. He was as poor as ever, with not 
even decent clothes to wear ; nor were his future pros- 
pects brightened by a single ray of encouragement. 
And yet, when he was ready to bid good-by to his 
boyhood's home, the whole neighborhood felt it a loss 
to see him go. 

The Lincoln family had, as was their habit, it seems, 
fallen upon bad luck. A disease peculiar to certain 
localities in the western wilderness had killed their cat- 
tle, and some of their near kindred had died of it. It 
was called the " milk-sick," a disease the exact cause of 
which has never been discovered. This was the reason 
for their departure from Spencer County. Abraham 
Lincoln's powerful constitution was poisoned with this 
or some subtle malarial influence, so that during all the 
rest of his life there lingered in his blood and nerves a 
disquieting trace of it. To it as a cause was traced a 

STO. OF IND. — 8 


certain melancholy which often overtook him in the 
midst of his most important activities. 

It might have been mentioned in the chapter on flat- 
boat days that Lincoln was at one time a flatboatman. 
In fact, he built the boat, superintended its launching 
and lading, and then guided it on its way down to New 
Orleans, where he staid a month or two, deeply inter- 
ested in what he saw and heard. And so, before he 
was twenty-five years old, he had passed through almost 
every experience open at that time to an honest and 
earnest young person who gladly undertook every labor 
that fell handy. What was most to his advantage seems 
to have been his habit of storing up and making ever 
afterwards instantly available at need every bit of ob- 
servation, discovery, or experience which chanced to 
come to him. He trained his memory to hold fast 
grip upon insignificant details, so that in the smallest 
as well as the largest affairs he always had ready an 
expedient with which to meet every exigency. 

Think of a young man, who was to be his country's 
greatest chief magistrate, making a petty peddler of 
himself ! Yet this Lincoln did on his journey from 
Indiana to Illinois. At the time of his departure from 
Spencer County, he had between thirty and forty dol- 
lars in money. This he spent for a stock of small arti- 
cles, such as pins, needles, knives and forks, buttons, 
thread, and the like. These he peddled from cabin to 
cabin on the way to Sangamon County, Illinois. By 
this turn he doubled his money before his journey was 
ended. When he reached his destination he hired out 
to split rails, and it required the money earned by split- 


ting ten hundred rails to buy one pair of coarse jean 
trousers the cloth of which had been dyed with white 
walnut bark. 

Long after Lincoln went away from Indiana he 
returned to visit the haunts of his boyhood. Things 
had changed and he had changed ; there was little 
left in the neighborhood to interest him. Friends 
had died or moved away; old landmarks had disap- 
peared; the atmosphere seemed heavy with melancholy 
influences. He wrote a tender, sentimental piece of 
verse expressive of his disappointment, and so went 
back to Illinois. But to this day the name of Abraham 
Lincoln is connected in Spencer County with traditions 
of the boy's worth, goodness, and superior intellectual 
gifts. Stories have come down from fathers to sons, 
in which are preserved incidents showing how his char- 
acter impressed itself upon the memory of those who 
knew him. Indeed, so deep was the hold " Abe " had 
taken upon popular memory, that no one in the places 
where he lived seemed ever to forget anything that he 
had said or done. 

The fourteen years spent by Lincoln in Indiana were 
the years which form a boy into a man, the years from 
seven to twenty-one. A careful study of that period in 
any man's life will show the building of his character. 
The traits developed then are usually permanent and 
ever afterwards controlling. Lincoln's boyhood and 
youth have one conspicuous element of the highest 
and strongest character — conscience was always a cri- 
terion by which he measured his acts. As a plowboy, 
a rail splitter, a carpenter, a whipsawyer, a flatboatman, 


a clerk, he acted upon honor and always did the just 

And yet Lincoln never really liked to do hard work. 
While he could lift as much as three ordinary men 
and could split more rails in a week than the average 
workman could split in a fortnight, he preferred the 
labor of the mind to that of the body. Throughout his 
most toilsome experience in field and wood he somehow 
found time to write essays and squibs in rhyme. He 
appears to have been half blindly working his way to 
the light of an intellectual life. His fourteen years as 
a "Hoosier" prepared him for a singularly rich and 
thorough understanding of the common people of our 
country. This was the basis of his legal and political 
sagacity, behind which lay his 

" Humor, born of virile opulence," 

the best gift, next to absolute honesty, ever bestowed 
upon a public man. He was far from handsome; not 
merely homely or ungainly, he was very unattractive 
to the casual observer. Lean, bony, long-necked, lan- 
tern-jawed, hollow-eyed, swarthy, angular, with large feet 
and knobby fingers, flat wrists and slim shanks, he was 
hopelessly shut off from being considered at all from 
the point of view of masculine beauty. But even his 
ungainliness was turned to large account by his genius ; 
for in telling a story or in appealing through vigorous 
oratory to the plain folk of the West, his language, his 
accent, his illustrations, his mimicry, all accorded with 
his massive, rugged physical outlines and went straight 
home to popular understanding and sympathy. This 


was so while yet he was but a boy. Wherever he went 
there was collected a group of delighted listeners, who 
wondered how and where he had learned so much and 
picked up so many excruciatingly funny stories. 

Abraham Lincoln worked ; that was his life's weapon 
and safeguard. It was by work, both physical and 
mental, honestly and steadily persisted in, that he rose 
slowly but surely, higher, higher, highest. His life 
was a serious and earnest one. His eyes were ever 
upon the place of honor and of duty. When he fell 
under the stroke of an assassin, he was but fifty-six 
years old, really at the high prime of manhood. It 
was but twenty years after he had fairly begun to 
practice law that he died, the greatest man of all our 
country's heroes. Surely his life is a source of encour- 
agement and inspiration for every American boy. 


WE have seen that Indiana was earliest settled by 
Frenchmen, and it seems pretty certain that 
what they first did was to establish trading relations 
with the Indians. A class of roving men called con- 
reurs dc bois, which means "wildwood rovers," took up 
the habits and customs of the savages, lived with them, 
married squaws, went almost naked ; and it was these 
coureurs de bois who to some degree set the fashion of 
life for the dwellers at the widely scattered French 
posts, and gave the good Catholic priests great trouble 
with their lawlessness. 

Among other evils introduced by these men, to the 
lasting injury of the Indians, was human slavery; for 
even our wild savages had never fallen so low as to 
"traffic in the bodies and souls of men" before the 
white people set the horrible example. The spirit of 
freedom seemed to dwell in the woods and prairies, and 
there was nothing else so highly prized by Indians as 
their personal liberty, the right to come and go at will, 
to call no man master. They guarded most jealously 
their absolute independence and their unlimited control 
of what they considered their birthright. But from 
the first the French settlers were favorably inclined 
toward slavery, provided always that it was not the 



Frenchman who had to wear the chain and collar of a 

Louisiana Territory was largely settled by slave- 
holders, and the taint of thraldom was not long in 
creeping deep into the wilderness, especially after the 
line of trading posts between Canada and New Orleans 
had been well established. Slave labor was highly 
remunerative to masters ; moreover, it suited the gay, 
romantic, and somewhat shiftless French character 
to have servants at command. A tradition of Euro- 
pean civilization, with its hereditary titles, its exag- 
gerated estimate of what "nobility" was worth as a 
mere social term, and its scorn of manual labor, was 
fixed in the Gallic mind. A French family always had, 
or what was much the same, professed to have, a coat 
of arms and a patent of nobility tucked safely away in 
its strong box, which strong box had, as a rule, not yet 
crossed the Atlantic. 

Naturally enough, in the beginning of Western civili- 
zation this French spirit was the predominant one, and 
its influence continued until some time after the popu- 
lation of Indiana Territory had a considerable majority 
of English-speaking people. Nor was it ready to sub- 
mit, even when our State had been formed and Ameri- 
cans were coming in from every direction in swarms 
of wide-awake, energetic farmers, artisans, and trades- 
people, all characteristically opposed to the easy-going, 
unthrifty, gayly social life of the French villages. 
The American pioneer began work with ax and saw 
and plow and hoe as soon as he found the spot of 
ground he had come to occupy. Not so with the 


Frenchman : he had no taste for clearing a farm and 

splitting rails ; his preference was for smoking his pipe 

on a rude veranda, while he chatted with a group of his 

vivacious fellow-villagers. Plowing 

the root-bound soil of a 

7:^ -3^* -=£ 

new field was to him 
next to impossible. 

Another characteris- 
tic of the Frenchman 
was his aversion to ac- 
cepting anything in the 
way of new imple- 
ments, modes, or ac- 
tivities. " Let things 
go on as they always 
have " was his motto. 
Nor could he fairly 
understand that, being 
a Frenchman, he was 
yet bound to obey the 
laws made by Ameri- 
cans. Not that he was 
evil-minded or inclined to be unpatriotic ; his trouble 
lay in adapting himself to the civilization gathering 
around him. He was a jolly fellow, honorable, trust- 
worthy, and brave ; but he saw life through Gallic eyes, 
and all his emotions and ambitions were antagonistic 
to the plans and methods of the rough and sturdy 

The French were not the only slaveholders in Indiana 
after slaveholding had been made unlawful ; but it 


doubtless was very much owing to their stubborn clutch 
upon the negroes held by them that gave other of- 
fenders heart to resist the humane law. Time and again 
the courts of our State decided that slavery was in vio- 
lation of our constitution ; but each case seemed to go 
no further than the liberation of the particular negroes 
involved in it. As to the laws on the subject, they 
were conflicting and very confusing when taken together. 
From the earlier days of Indiana Territory attempts had 
been made by the Legislature to legalize slavery under 
another name. Negroes brought into the Territory by 
their masters were permitted to enter into a so-called 
voluntary servitude by a contract binding them for a 
long term of years, and the courts had been inclined 
to hold these contracts enforcible on the authority of 
the old English common law. 

But when Indiana became a State with a free con- 
stitution there could be no ground for such decisions, 
and slavery could exist only by force in defiance of all 
law. Yet it is an historical fact that slavery actually 
existed in Indiana and was the subject of a decision of 
the Supreme Court, reported in Blackford's first volume 
of Supreme Court decisions. And even so late as 1840 
the United States census credits Indiana with three 
slaves, — one in Putnam County, two in Rush. 

It is hard to understand how this could be true under 
a State constitution, one section of which read as fol- 
lows : — 

" There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servi- 
tude in this State, otherwise than for the punishment 
of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly con- 


victed. Nor shall any indenture of any negro or 
mulatto hereafter made and executed out of the bounds 
of this State be of any validity within the State." 

Many men were found, however, especially in the 
southwestern part of the State, who believed, or pre- 
tended to believe, that even this strong section of the 
constitution did not wholly wipe out property in slaves. 
They contended that a constitution could not wrest a 
man's valuable chattels from him without just compen- 
sation. And so they held on firmly to their negroes, 
hoping that the courts would come to their relief. 
Others, who did not wish to lose the money represented 
by slaves in their possession, took the shortest road to 
the Ohio River, and crossed over into Kentucky, where 
the unfortunate negroes had but a poor opportunity to 
assert their freedom. Many masters took the constitu- 
tional provision in good part, however ; and not only 
did they set their negroes free ; they went further, even 
providing for the wants of the old ones and paying 
fair wages to the others for their work. 

It frequently turned out that the slaves themselves 
refused to accept freedom, preferring to continue their 
state of servitude, and it is probable that most of the 
late cases of slavery were the results of such preference 
on the part of the negroes. Still, some of them were 
not of this character, as appears from the history of a 
trial which took place at Vincennes several years after 
the adoption of our State constitution. The defendant 
in this case was Colonel Hyacinthe Lasselle, the keeper 
of a hotel at Vincennes, who had been an Indian 
trader to the extent of amassing a considerable fortune, 


a good part of which was in slaves, set free by the 
constitution, but still held in bondage by the doughty 

Lasselle was the son-in-law of Major Francis Bus- 
seron, an old French resident of Vincennes whose 
services to Clark in capturing the posts and satisfying 
the Creoles with the terms of American domination 
have inseparably connected his name with our early 
history. Before coming to live at Vincennes, Lasselle 
had traded with the Indians at Detroit, Fort Wayne, 
Godfroy's village ; on the Wabash at Piankeshaw village, 
and at Chepaille. It was during this time that he pur- 
chased his negroes from the Indians, who had captured 
them from the whites. 

When the State constitution was accepted by the 
convention, Lasselle made a show of freeing his negroes, 
but, somehow, at the same time he kept them. Among 
these negroes was Polly, a pretty mulatto girl, whose 
pleasing manners and excellent disposition had attracted 
much local attention. She was a great favorite in 
Colonel Lasselle's household, and the story went forth 
that she had refused to accept her freedom. At all 
events, she was not free, a fact not pleasant to the 
coterie of abolitionists in Vincennes, who had not for- 
gotten the colonel's active opposition to the freedom 
clause in the constitution ; besides, there was said to be 
some objection to the treatment Polly received in the 
Lasselle family. 

It seems, however, that Polly herself cared very little 
about the matter when finally a legal proceeding was 
begun to test Colonel Lasselle's title to her. This was 


the case which went to the Supreme Court, and is set 
forth in Blackford's first Report. Polly was adjudged 
free ; but, strange to say, not by the court at Vin- 
cennes, which in fact held that she was the lawful prop- 
erty of Hyacinthe Lasselle ! An appeal had to be taken 
to the highest court in the State to settle the question. 
After the final decision in her favor, Polly accepted 
her freedom and went to St. Louis to live. Years later 
she came back to Indiana on a visit to the Lasselle 
family, and was kindly received. And it was thus that 
slavery died a slow death in a State whose very founda- 
tion was freedom. 

But the fact that slavery existed just beyond the 
Ohio River caused still further and different trouble 
in Indiana. Negroes ran away from their masters in 
Kentucky, and, crossing the river by night, sought the 
aid of abolitionists to prevent their recapture. And so, 
in time, what was called the " underground railroad" 
to freedom was established. This was an arrangement 
by which runaway slaves were hidden in houses of 
friendly white people, who furnished them with food, 
and oftentimes with money, and helped them on their 
perilous way far beyond the reach of their pursuing 
owners. This was illegal, for the courts had held that 
a man's property could be reclaimed wherever found, 
and so to hide it from him was, technically, a kind 
of stealing. 

Still, many good people, whose hearts brimmed over 
with sympathy for the fugitives from perpetual tyranny, 
could not feel that mere law, absolutely repugnant to 
human conscience, should override the imperative 


claims of justice in so important a matter as the free- 
dom of a man, a woman, or a child. When a negro 
swam the Ohio by night and came wet and hungry 
and exhausted to the door of a citizen of Indiana, ask- 
ing for shelter from a pursuing master who claimed 
to own him body and soul, who can wonder, who can 

blame, if he got what he asked for? Out of such 
incidents, however, arose many notable lawsuits in our 

In a very interesting biographical sketch of Joseph 
Glass Marshall, of Madison, Mr. W. W. Woollen gives 
an account of one or two of those fugitive-slave trials. 
Marshall was a born orator, one of those leonine men 
whose roaring had in it both persuasion and compul- 
sion, and his style of address suited perfectly the 
prevailing public taste and temper. He knew how to 
strike the chord of simple and irresistible passion by 


which the hearts of simple, uneducated men are stirred 
to a frenzy of sentimental emotion, so that calm reason 
and the logic of law are forgotten. 

But he was, as well, a lawyer of remarkable learning 
and acumen for the times and the environment in which 
he lived. His friends gave him the nickname of the 
" Sleeping Lion," on account of the almost terrific 
change of bearing and countenance which came over 
him when suddenly called upon for a supreme effort 
of oratory. He was a man of singular personal mag- 
netism, although somewhat uncouth in physique. His 
head was immense ; his face broad, heavy, excessively 
masculine; his hair looked like a lion's mane, and his 
eyes could flash with all the intensity of his ungov- 
ernable feelings. He was born in Kentucky, but came 
to Indiana when twenty-eight years old. 

One of Marshall's famous cases was that of John 
Freeman, who was arrested as a fugitive slave, after 
having lived in Indiana for a long time as a free man. 
He had a respectable and much esteemed family, and 
was, at the time of his apprehension, a citizen thor- 
oughly in touch with the best people of his neighbor- 
hood. Of course it caused considerable excitement 
when Freeman was taken into custody to be carried 
back into slavery for the remainder of his life. Yet the 
prevailing local sentiment at that time seems to have 
been in favor of a strict enforcement of the fugitive- 
slave law. Marshall, however, volunteered his services in 
Freeman's behalf, and delivered a speech that reversed 
the feelings of both court and audience. 

Another case was that of Delia A. Webster, who was 


accused of running slaves out of Kentucky to freedom 
in Indiana. She had before served a term in the peni- 
tentiary of Kentucky for a crime of this sort, but in this 
instance she escaped from custody and crossed the 
Ohio into Madison. There she was taken by virtue of 
a requisition made upon the Governor of Indiana by 
the Governor of Kentucky. Marshall undertook her 
defense by a proceeding in habeas corpus, and so rous- 
ing was his eloquence that the men who heard him 
became wild with excitement, and made a rush upon 
the Kentucky officials, driving them hastily back to 
their own State. 

When the great war between the North and the 
South came on, it turned out that Abraham Lincoln, 
the poor plowboy of Spencer County, was the great 
liberator whose hand wrote the Proclamation of Eman- 
cipation, and swept slavery forever from the whole land. 
To-day there is not a slave in America. Black and 
white live together under our flag of freedom with 
equal rights guaranteed by carefully constructed amend- 
ments to our national constitution. 


THE early days were not without their debt to 
romance, as may be easily shown by a sketch 
from real life. The first lieutenant governor of the 
State of Indiana was Christopher Harrison, whose 
strange and romantic career forms a picturesque ex- 
ample of what a poetic disposition could do for a man 
under the circumstances of American life eighty years 
ago. It seems that, in those days, the wild forests of 
the West lured discontented persons to the ways of 
the hermit. 
A longing for 

"A lodge in some vast wilderness, 
Some boundless contiguity of shade," 

as Cowper has it, took strong hold of the mind, es- 
pecially when some dash of misfortune, or some dis- 
astrous interference with an aspiration or a passion had 
embittered life. Christopher Harrison was a very im- 
aginative young man, finely educated and intellectual ; 
but he lacked the valuable gift of belligerency. He 
could not face about and fight again after a stroke of 

He was born in the town of Cambridge, Dorchester 
County, Maryland, in 1775, and after graduating from 



St. John's College at Annapolis, went to Baltimore as a 
confidential clerk for William Patterson, a merchant of 
immense wealth and high social standing. Young Har- 
rison was a charming person, handsome, intelligent, 
versatile, with the manners of a courtier. He came of 
an old and excellent English family, and had been 
accustomed from infancy to every accessory of culture 
and high breeding. He was therefore received into 
Mr. Patterson's household on the most intimate terms 
as the equal of its members ; indeed, almost as one of 
the family. He became the friend, companion, and 
teacher of Elizabeth, Mr. Patterson's daughter, who was 
afterwards the wife of Jerome Bonaparte, later King of 

It seems that Harrison fell deeply in love with Miss 
Patterson, although great efforts have been made to 
becloud and discredit the fact. She was a beautiful 
girl, gifted by nature, and the pet of great fortune ; a 
young man of Christopher Harrison's temperament and 
taste might well give himself over to her lovely fascina- 
tion. But details of the affair have been withheld ; we 
know only that some disaster fell upon the young man's 
life about that time. The story goes, and is probably 
true, that Miss Patterson favored Harrison's suit, and 
even promised to marry him ; but her father had a 
greater ambition in behalf of his daughter, and when 
the engagement came to his knowledge he promptly 
made an end of it. Bonaparte had come upon the 
scene with the glamour of his great kinsman's renown 
shimmering over him ; and when did a Bonaparte fail 
to win? It was not yet time for Waterloo. In 1803 

STO. OF IND. — 9 


Miss Patterson was married to the young Bonaparte, 
then a lieutenant in the French navy, and for a short 
time was happy as his wife. But the greater Bonaparte, 
Napoleon I., did not like the lieutenant's marriage, so 
he annulled it, and another woman, Catherine, daughter 
of the King of Wiirttemberg, became the Queen of 

Immediately after this, perhaps late in the same year, 
Christopher Harrison suddenly and mysteriously disap- 
peared from among his friends and kindred in Mary- 
land. He was quite wealthy, owning slaves and other 
property sufficiently valuable to give him a good income; 
but he cared not for them. He set the negroes free, in 
place of selling them, and took away with him but a 
small amount of money. 

In a wood of Indiana, overlooking a most beautiful 
stretch of the Ohio River, there stood, in 1808, a cabin; 
and near it, cut into the bark of a tree, was the inscrip- 
tion, Christopher Harrison, July 8, 1808. The situation 
was a lovely one. In his interesting sketch, Mr. W. W. 
Woollen thus describes it : — " His cabin stood upon a 
point known as ' Fair Prospect,' a site which com- 
manded a view of the Ohio River for miles up and 
down. It had but a single room, and was roughly 
made, but inside were many things which testified of 
the culture of its occupant." Harrison was a man of 
refined and scholarly taste. He could draw and paint 
with considerable skill, and had a good knowledge of 
several languages. On the walls of his lonely cabin 
room were hung many pictures, while rude shelves of 
books filled up the spaces. Trophies of his success 

. I3i 

in hunting adorned the rough mantel over the fire- 
place, and his rifle and bullet pouch, powderhorn and 
hunting knife, swung above the low door on a rack of 
buck's antlers. Easels and palettes, paints and brushes, 
were scattered about. Everything, indeed, indicated the 
hut of a gifted and educated hermit, who spent his time 
in a most romantic way. 

Christopher Harrison's hermit life lasted for seven 
years, during which time his only companion was his 
faithful dog, whose kennel stood against the chimney of 
the cabin in the form of a lean-to shed. Books, paint- 
ing, and the excitement of fishing and shooting game 
afforded him his chief activities and pleasures. He had 
no neighbors. Now and then a friendly Indian or a 
tramp pioneer dropped in upon his lonely seclusion to 
receive always the kindest treatment possible ; but he 
was reticent, telling nothing about himself, asking no 
questions about others. Even in that thinly settled, 
backwoods region, a rumor of his singular life went 
far, and was no doubt greatly exaggerated. The simple 
settlers, trappers, and traders could not make out the 
motives of a man of Harrison's tastes and accomplish- 
ments living as he did, and his life excited no little 
curiosity and surmise. 

At the time of his arrival on the Ohio River bluff, 
Harrison was thirty-two or thirty-three years old ; his 
health was vigorous, his wants were few. Doubtless he 
spent much time in the pursuit of knowledge and in 
preparing himself for some future plans. At all events, 
his life and disposition afterwards showed that he had 
not grown sour or melancholy. So long as his cabin 

132 . 

was isolated and his solitude not often disturbed, he ap- 
pears to have been quite contented and happy, tramp- 
ing in the woods with his rifle and his dog, or paddling his 
pirogue on the Ohio, and at night reading his favorite 
books by the light of a bear's oil lamp. When the 
weather was rainy or otherwise bad, he staid indoors 
and amused himself with his paints and brushes. 

In 1 8 1 5 Christopher Harrison sold his cabin and the 
landed estate upon which it stood to one George Logan. 
His hermit life then suddenly ended, and he went to 
the town of Salem to become a dry-goods merchant. 
If he could not live in the forest quite apart from all 
mankind, he would go right into the bustle of human 
activities. He took for his partner in trade Mr. Jona- 
than Lyons. The firm was successful and prospered 
largely. In the following year Indiana became a State, 
and Christopher Harrison was placed on the ticket with 


Jonathan Jennings, the latter for governor, the former 
for lieutenant governor. Both were elected. Harrison 
must have been a very attractive man to emerge from 
the life of a lonely recluse and at the end of a year step 
into the second highest office in the State ! 

At one time Christopher Harrison thought himself 
not merely lieutenant governor, but actually governor 
of Indiana. His claim was honestly made, and in strict 
legal right had, perhaps, a solid foundation, at least 
sufficiently solid for fair contention. Under the State 
constitution the governor was forbidden to hold any 
office under the United States. But Governor Jennings 
accepted an appointment from the President of the 
United States to serve as one of three commission- 
ers to purchase certain lands from the Indians. Cer- 
tainly that was an office "under the United States"; 
or if not, what was it ? There are many fine-spun 
technical threads woven into the cloth of gold called 
" The Law " ; but to the ordinary mind it is quite diffi- 
cult to see how a man can represent the United States 
government so intimately as to negotiate and perfect 
the acquisition of public domain without being a legal 
officer under that government. 

Christopher Harrison, as lieutenant governor, was 
legally entitled to the office of acting governor, if Gov- 
ernor Jennings had forfeited his office by disobedience 
to the State constitution. He was an honest man, 
and, believing that Jennings was attempting to fill 
two offices at once in direct violation of sworn duty, 
he took possession of the governor's office and de- 
clared himself the acting chief executive of the State 


of Indiana. Jennings, however, did not agree to this 
arrangement ; nor did he appeal to the courts to 
settle the controversy. Perhaps he was doubtful 
about the result of solemn adjudication; at all events, 
he made his cry to the legislative body, and secured 
its favorable recognition. 

Harrison immediately sent in his resignation to the 
secretary of state, and at the same time he addressed 
a dignified letter to the Speaker of the House of Rep- 
resentatives, stating that, since he could not be per- 
mitted to exercise the authority of his office, he did not 
wish to bear its empty name. The Legislature could 
not do less than admire the high position assumed by 
Mr. Harrison. A resolution was passed testifying to 
his correct^ and dignified conduct. 

So closed the term of Christopher Harrison's first 
public office. He returned to Salem and resumed his 
quiet and studious private life. Thomas P. Williams 
of Baltimore, in a letter quoted in Mr. Woollen's book, 
speaking of Harrison, says : — 

" He was a student all his life, and his acquirements 
were various and extensive. He was not satisfied with 
a superficial knowledge of anything ; he went into mat- 
ters thoroughly." 

He never married. At Salem he lived in a little 
brick house of but two rooms, one of which was " barely 
large enough for a bed." Here, all alone, as in his 
cabin on the Ohio, he devoted himself once more to 
books and art. The small grounds around his cottage 
were planted in flowers and shrubs carefully tended 
with his own hands. It delighted him to have his 


neighbors' children come and accept the bouquets he 
prepared for them. His simple nature found deepest 
pleasure in making others happy. 

In 1 8 19 he was a candidate for the office of governor. 
It is probable that he wished the place more out of de- 
sire to defeat Jennings, who was asking for a second 
term, than on account of any real political ambition. 
He felt that his dignity ought to be vindicated and the 
insult to his former official claim wiped out. But Jen- 
nings was a popular politician upheld by a large number 
of office holders and office seekers, while Harrison was 
but a quiet, reserved man — just the man, indeed, to be 
overwhelmingly beaten as he was. When the votes 
were counted, Jennings was found to be reelected by a 
very large majority. 

In the following year Christopher Harrison was 
chosen by the Legislature as one of the three com- 
missioners to lay out the plat of Indianapolis, which 
was to be the capital city of the State. He accepted 
the appointment, and in April, 1821, repaired to the site 
of the future metropolis as his commission required. 
Neither of the other two appointees arrived. They had 
both forgotten, or were pleased to shirk their duty. 
Harrison did not hesitate, but appointed a competent 
corps of surveyors, headed by Elias P. Fordham and 
Alexander Ralston, and proceeded to do the work. 
And he did it thoroughly, with most conscientious care, 
so that when he made his report it was found to be 

In October, 1821, the city lots of Indianapolis were 
sold by the State agent, General John Carr. It was 


thus that our great capital was founded in the damp 
forest on the bank of White River. Shall we try to 
imagine what would have been Christopher Harrison's 
feelings could he have looked forward to the present 
time and gazed upon the city he was outlining in a way 
so rudimentary ? The railroads, the telegraphs, tele- 
phones, electric cars, electric lights, asphalt streets, 
steam manufactories, and all the vast roar of teeming 
activities — what would he have thought ! And he 
might have taken a wondering look at the natural-gas 
operations and the spouting oil wells not far off. In- 
deed, he could have stared wonderingly at the men 
and boys, the women and girls, all scudding along on 

In 1824 Christopher Harrison and William Hendricks 
were appointed to locate a canal around the falls of the 
Ohio near Jeffersonville. They made their report the 
following year and filed it on January 18, 1825. The his- 
tory of that effort to establish a safe passageway for 
steamboats around the dangerous, rocky shoals in the 
Ohio River is very interesting. It shows how our com- 
monwealth was even then reaching out after the means 
with which to liberate the cramped spirit of greatness 
of which she was conscious. During the low-water 
season steamboats could not pass up or down the so- 
called falls, where the river ran in a broad, noisy, shallow 
ripple over an uneven bed of limestone. The problem 
was to cut a canal by which this place could be avoided. 
But for a sufficient, if not a good reason, the mer- 
chants and warehousemen of Louisville, Kentucky, were 
opposed to the improvement. 


The great rock obstruction in the river made Louis- 
ville the practical head of navigation for a large part of 
each year. In other words, nearly all the traffic of the 
steamboats had to be there transferred, giving employ- 
ment to a host of men and conveyances, while great 
warehouses for storage were kept full. It was this 
advantage that Louisville men did not like to give up. 
But it was thought in Indiana that a steamboat canal 
around the falls would build up a strong river port on 
the Indiana side. Hence the desire to prosecute the 
scheme as a public work. 

A competent engineer surveyed the proposed route, 
and found it quite practicable. Work was begun with 
great energy. A dam was built across a stream and 
the water turned into a part of the channel selected, to 
cut it out by hydraulic friction. The plan was working 
finely ; but one night some person or persons cut the 
dam and so destroyed the whole expensive reservoir. 
At the same time financial trouble began in the State, 
and the canal had to be abandoned. Whether Louis- 
ville was at the bottom of the ugly business by which 
Indiana lost her great river port can never be known ; 
but it is certain that at a later clay the canal was con- 
structed on the Kentucky side of the river. 

Christopher Harrison's connection with the canal 
scheme ended when he and Governor William Hen- 
dricks made their report. After that he passed out 
of public life. He moved from Salem to a farm a few 
miles in the country, where he again took up a lonely 
life of study and outdoor recreation. He took great 
interest in growing fine watermelons, and here again 


he remembered the children of Salem. He would cut 
the names of all the boys and girls he knew upon the 
rinds of as many watermelons ; then with his wagon 
loaded he would enter the town and proceed to dis- 
tribute his luscious gifts. You may be sure that he 
was beloved by the young people. 

When he began to grow old, Christopher Harrison 
left Indiana and went back to Maryland, and for many 
years lived among his relatives. He died there when 
eighty-eight years old. As long as he lived he was fond 
of fishing, boating, and shooting. In his description of 
Mr. Harrison's personal habits and appearance, Mr. 
Woollen says, — "He was always careful of his dress. 
Usually he was cleanly shaved, and in his person was 
always scrupulously clean. . . . He was a great stu- 
dent, being a voracious reader of books. Judge Banta 
has a couple of books, one of them printed in Latin, 
which once belonged to the old pioneer. They contain 
notes and emendations in his handwriting, and inter- 
spersed through them are beautiful pictures in water 
colors, drawn by the deft hand of their owner." 

Many anecdotes touching the singular characteristics 
of Christopher Harrison have been preserved by tradi- 
tion, and one of them may serve to close this sketch. 
Harrison was a freethinker, but not an infidel. He 
had great respect for all churches, and especially for 
the Quakers. At one time he was visited by a preacher 
who had more curiosity than politeness. Harrison 
made him welcome to his house, showed him his pic- 
tures, his books, his flowers, and indeed made every 
genteel effort to entertain him. 


"What church do you belong to?" inquired the 

"To none," was the quiet answer. 

"That is unfortunate, very unfortunate," said the 
parson, putting on a long face, 
and drawing forth the words in 
a funereal tone. " Your soul 
will be lost." 

"How can it be lost?" 
Harrison demanded. 

" By your willful neglect 
of it," said the preacher. 

"Ah, my friend," 
said Harrison, "you 
do not know every- 
thing." Then, laying his K : < 
hand kindly on the min- 
ister's shoulder, he added 
in a voice of infinite pathos, 
" God is love, and love never 
loses anything ; it is infi- 
nitely tender, infinitely forgiving. 
My soul cannot be lost." 

Perhaps the man was thinking of his 
own enduring and illuminating love, by the 
light of which his whole long life was spent. 



AT Iptingen in Wiirttemberg, in October, 1757, was 
born a child whose singular life was to affect the 
history of Indiana in a remarkable degree. He is 
known in history as George Rapp, the founder of the 
Rappite community. Although a weaver by trade, he 
was a great student and soon acquired a large knowl- 
edge of the Bible and of early Christian customs. 
About the end of the eighteenth century he had organ- 
ized a band of followers, who, accepting his doctrine 
of communism, attempted to live as they understood 
their duty required. The model for their community, 
as they claimed, was the mode of life adopted by the 
early Christians at Jerusalem. For a while they got 
along well enough ; but their doings were not favored 
by the government, and presently trouble arose which 
forced them to abandon their country and come to 
America. This was in 1803. In 1805 they settled in 
Pennsylvania, Butler County, on Conequenessing Creek, 
where for ten years they prospered in agriculture and 
in manufacturing ventures. 

A year before Indiana became a State, the Rappites 
purchased thirty thousand acres of fine land on the 
Wabash River, and built the beginnings of the town, 
in Posey County, known far and wide as New Harmony. 



It was a wild and beautiful region, and the immense 
estate purchased consisted of land as rich as any in the 
world. George Rapp's theory of life was to have an 
opportunity to test itself without any hindrance from the 
government, or conflicting social, political, or religious 

A large area of land, several thousand acres, was 
cleared and brought into a high state of cultivation. 
Extensive vineyards like those in Germany were planted 
and trained to beautiful effect, with a summerhouse in 
the midst, surrounded by a curiously intricate system of 
walks called a labyrinth, and adorned with exquisite 
flowering plants and strange shrubs. The walks were 
so interlaced that, upon entering the gate of the in- 
closure and attempting to go directly to the summer- 
house, the visitor got lost, and soon found himself back 
again at the gate, no better off and no nearer the house 
than when he first entered. 

The Rappite community lived in their town, and all 
shared alike, going afield together to labor, or serving 
as workmen in the large woolen and cotton establish- 
ments which they erected. The town itself was a 
curious place, like no other town in America. The 
houses did not front on the streets, the side next to the 
street having no door, and the architectural arrange- 
ment was such that the stranger passing through the 
town saw very little appearance of life. An air of 
mystery seemed to brood over the place. 

Doubtless George Rapp himself directed the build- 
ing of the houses after that fashion with a view to 
shutting his people away from the public as much as 


possible. He held his power over the community with 
a strong hand, and it seems that he did not scruple 
about working heavily upon their superstitions. At one 
time he had a slab of stone in which were the counter- 
feit impressions of two human feet, which he told his 
people were the tracks of the angel Gabriel, who, sail- 
ing down from heaven, had stood upon this stone and 
warned the world of its near-approaching end. For 
many years men of science, as well as ordinary people, 
were mystified as to the nature of those footprints ; but 
at last they were shown to be the handiwork of a some- 
what skillful carver, and not fossil impressions, much 
less the miraculous vestiges of an angel. 

The Rappites were moral, religious in their way, and 
extremely frugal and industrious. Their treasury soon 
showed a considerable accumulation of funds. They 
built several large public edifices, four of which were 
for boarding houses and dormitories, while one was a 
substantial brick meetinghouse with heavy stone founda- 
tion, built in the " form of a Greek cross, 130 feet east 
and west, and 120 feet north and south. The windows 
in the upper part were obliquely oval," and the interior 
was furnished with an ample gallery. 

As years went by and population increased in the 
neighborhood of the Rappite colony, some depredations 
were committed by lawless people, and Rapp thought it 
necessary to guard the products of his agriculture, so 
he built an enormous granary in which to store them. 
The first story was of stone, the second of brick ; loop- 
holes for guns were made in the heavy walls, and all 
the openings were furnished with iron gratings. It was 


like a castle or fort frowning grimly down upon the 
village. After this was built the Rappites had no more 
trouble with grain thieves. Rapp had an underground 
passage from the kitchen of his private house to the 
fort, and by this he could conduct unseen any force 
needed to man the loopholes. But for some reason, 
although his community was exceedingly prosperous, 
Rapp became dissatisfied with his surroundings, and at 
the end of ten years sold the entire estate and returned 
with his followers to Pennsylvania. It is said that he 
took away, over and above the price received for the 
lands and houses, about 3 1,000,000, accumulated by the 
thrift of the community. 

The purchaser of the Rappite estate was Mr. Robert 
Owen, an Englishman of wealth who had in mind a 
socialistic experiment quite different from Rapp's, and 
yet resembling it in an indefinite way. Owen was a man 
of high character. He had risen to wealth and influ- 
ence from a humble place among the working people, 
and his sympathy for his fellow-men, whose lives 
seemed to him wasted in struggling against troubles, 
influences, and physical obstacles of their own making, 
caused him to invent a plan by which he thought he 
could reform society and do away with the greatest ills 
of existence. 

It looked as if the Rappites had been the pioneers to 
prepare the way for the coming of Mr. Owen and his 
beneficent influence into the wilderness of Indiana. 
Mr. Owen paid $ 150,000 for the lands and buildings, 
and took possession in 1825. Associated with him in 
the purchase was Mr. William Maclure, a man of high 


scientific attainments and of great personal energy and 
character, whose name is honorably connected with the 
earliest geological work in the United States. The 
combined wealth of Owen and Maclure was now 
pledged to a great undertaking. A society was soon 
formed at New Harmony, the aims of which were, in 
the main, as lofty as they in time proved to be imprac- 
ticable and even visionary. The society was founded 
upon the principle that education should be universal, 
in order to give intellectual equality, so far as possi- 
ble. Freedom of conscience was the first demand. 
No person's religious opinions were to be questioned. 
What was open to one member of the society was open 
to all of them. Labor and capital were to be upon an 
equal and friendly footing ; masters and bosses were to 
descend from their places of authority and command to 
take a stand elbow to elbow with the servant and the 
common laborer. All were to be elevated and refined 
by liberal education under the benign influence of love 
and an enlightened conscience. It was a resplendent 
dream, a vision of absolute happiness to be evolved 
deep in the primeval forest of Indiana by men who had 
left the luxury of wealth in the old world to come and 
begin life over in the new ! 

The difference between Rapp's idea and that of 
Owen was just the difference between a perfectly 
practicable scheme for making money, and an un- 
worldly, impossible undertaking for the reform of 
society from a purely intellectual and moral point of 
view. Rapp's society is still in existence, immensely 
rich, with nothing to show but its money — a little 


community with an enormous bank account. What we 
have to thank the Rappites for is that they attracted 
Mr. Robert Owen's attention and were the cause of 
his coming to Indiana. They had opened a great space 
in the wilderness for him, had built a town for him, and 
had made it possible for him to buy an estate just suited 
to his generous plans. 

New Harmony was not the first attempt to establish 
an earthly paradise ; but it was, perhaps, based upon as 
perfect sincerity of purpose as ever influenced men, 
and no scheme of the sort has ever had broader, better, 
or more far-reaching results. The Owen and Maclure 
community lasted, as such, about three years, at the end 
of which its founders saw that it must be abandoned as 
wholly unmanageable. The vast estate gradually passed 
into the hands of individual owners and was cut up into 
beautiful and fertile farms. The spirit of the original 
undertaking did not pass away, however, but was wisely 
modified to suit the prevailing conditions of American 

When the plan for a community had to be given up, 
Mr. Robert Owen turned his back upon New Harmony 
and returned to England, leaving his two sons, Robert 
Dale Owen and William Owen, to manage the estate in 
connection with Mr. Maclure, who had become an in- 
valid. Already great changes had been made in the 
buildings left by the Rappites, and in the aims and 
economies of the inhabitants of New Harmony. Both 
Robert Owen and William Maclure had pinned faith 
upon the sleeve of science ; they thoroughly believed in 
the civilizing and ennobling influence of practical edu- 


i 4 6 

cation. From the beginning of their control at New 
Harmony they brought all the power of their minds 
and fortunes to bear upon the advancement of learning 
among the people. Their theory was that " ignorance 
is the fruitful cause of human misery." Upon this 
basis they built, and we shall see how successfully. 

The grain fort erected by the Rappites was changed 
into a museum of natural history, and the church build- 
ing became a studio and a workingmen's library. Mr. 
Maclure had collected an immense number of geologi- 
cal, paleontological, and botanical specimens from all 
over the world, which he arranged and classified for the 
public benefit. Suddenly New Harmony attracted the 
attention of men devoted to science, and became a cen- 
ter toward which they were irresistibly drawn. There 
is nothing else in American history to compare with 
what immediately followed. That little village, deep 
set in the darkest part of Indiana's wilderness, devel- 
oped, as a flower blooms, into the most important source 
of scientific knowledge in America. 

Not long after Robert Owen's return to England, 
Mr. Maclure went to Mexico in search of health, leav- 
ing Mr. Thomas Say in charge of his affairs. Say was 
a remarkable man, who left his impress in history. His 
name can never be separated from science. Moreover, 
he proved himself a "careful, honest, and competent 
business man. He was a member of the Philadelphia 
Academy of Natural Sciences, and, prior to his life at 
New Harmony, had done notable work in connection 
with explorations in Georgia, in the Rocky Mountains, 
and in the region of the Minnesota River (then called 

i 4 7 

the St. Peters). He became an authority in entomology 
and conchology. One by one came other distinguished 
investigators, men who depended upon facts for the 
basis of conduct, and formed themselves into a coterie 
devoted to knowledge. 

Robert Owen's sons were all remarkable men. The 
eldest, Robert Dale Owen, was born November 7, 1801, 
and came from Scotland to New Harmony when twenty- 
four years old. For about thirty years he was in many 
ways one of the most influential men in Indiana. He 
served as a prominent member of the constitutional 
convention, was in Congress two terms, was in the 
State Legislature twice, and President Lincoln ap- 
pointed him to an important commission in connection 
with an investigation of the affairs of the freedmen 
of the South. Before this he had served as charge 
d'affaires at Naples, and as minister resident there. 
Early in the Civil War Governor Morton appointed him 
purchasing agent for the State of Indiana to secure 
arms for her troops. In every part of his public life 
he was industrious, resourceful, efficient, and honest. 
Beyond this, Mr. Owen distinguished himself in litera- 

Robert Dale's brother William was a director of the 
Indianapolis branch of the United States Bank; and 
David Dale Owen, another brother, was United States 
Geologist, Kentucky State Geologist, Arkansas State 
Geologist, and State Geologist of Indiana. Richard 
Owen, the third brother, served as captain in the war 
with Mexico, was lieutenant colonel of the Sixtieth In- 
diana in the Civil War, and afterwards Professor of 

1 4 8 

Natural Sciences in the Indiana State University at 

Of course the presence and tireless labors of men 
like the Owens, Say, and Maclure could not fail to 
make New Harmony famous ; but it seems a veritable 
romance of science that a mere village in the forest 
became a sort of Mecca to which men distinguished as 
scholars, philosophers, artists, made pilgrimage. The 
place had a charm, moreover, which held many of the 
pilgrims, so that like Tennyson's Lotos-eaters, they 
would not "wander more," but staid until they died. 
From the West Indies came the artist and naturalist, 
Charles Alexander Lessueur. He was the accredited 
collector for the Jardin des Plantes of Paris, and he 
remained for a long time in New Harmony. 

Lessueur occupied as a studio a room made in the 
gallery of the Rappite church. He decorated with 
paintings the south wing of the building, which was 
used as a theater. Thomas Say's wife was also an 
artist ; she drew and colored the designs for the illus- 
trations of the " American Conchology," Say's most 
noted work. Lessueur divided his labors between ex- 
ploration and art. He was the first to make an intelli- 
gent examination of Indian mounds in Indiana, and he 
was as well the earliest professional painter in our State 
of whose works we have any favorable account. After 
living and working many years at New Harmony, he 
returned to France and accepted the office of curator 
of the museum at Havre. 

Another distinguished member of the Owen and 
Maclure coterie was Dr. Gerard Troost, who came from 


Holland. He afterwards served as State Geologist of 
Tennessee. Professor Joseph Neef and his accom- 
plished wife taught a school in one of the Rappite 
buildings. Neef was an Alsatian and a disciple of 
Pestalozzi. John Chappelsmith and wife came from 
England to New Harmony ; they were both gifted and 
highly accomplished. Chappelsmith made the drawings 
for the illustrations picturing many of the fossils in the 
reports of the United States Geological Survey. Rob- 
ert Henry Fauntleroy of the United States Coast Sur- 
vey lived for some time at New Harmony, where he 
conducted many interesting scientific observations and 
experiments. There also lived Frances d'Arusmont, 
afterwards famous for her lectures and her efforts in 
behalf of the Southern slaves. The list might be ex- 
tended over many pages. There were Professors A. H. 
Worthen and E. T. Cox and Dr. Elderhorst; the famous 
paleontologists, Leo Lesquereux and F. B. Meek ; the 
botanist Dr. C. C. Parry was a resident, and for a while 
Sir Charles Lyell sojourned in our favored village. 
Nor must we forget Prince Maximilian and his com- 
pany of continental scientists, who spent a winter there 
studying the collections in the museum. 

We cannot doubt that a community of persons like 
these would exert a strong influence and powerfully 
affect the destiny of any commonwealth in which it 
existed. Indeed, the intellectual vigor and scientific 
attainments of the New Harmony coterie reached out 
beyond the limits of Indiana and commanded highest 
recognition. In 1839 Dr. David Dale Owen was ap- 
pointed United States Geologist with a commission to 


make a survey of the territory now included in the 
States of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and a part of Illi- 
nois. His official headquarters were at New Harmony, 
where all the specimens collected during the survey 
were brought together, arranged, and 
studied. This was the high noon of * 

New Harmony's golden day. From 
every direction, from all countries, 
came men and women flushed 
with the enthusiasm of a new 
era of science. The little 
town on the Wabash / 
was crowded with visit- 
ors and persons lin- ' p 
gering indefinitely 
to gather the riches 
of knowledge collected 
in this wildwood hive of 
human working bees. 

A fine public library 
had been fitted up which could 
be used in connection with the 

museum, and the most distinguished scholars and spe- 
cialists in the country lectured to enthusiastic audiences. 
The curiously picturesque residences built by the Rapp- 
ites became the homes of men and women whose high 
ideals of life were based upon theories as numerous as 
they were romantic ; but neither socialistic vagaries nor 
scientific realities could interfere with a beautiful hos- 
pitality and a refined dignity which seemed to be inherent 
in the social and domestic economy of the place. From 


the beginning a sense of equality was uppermost, a feel- 
ing carried over, doubtless, from the communistic experi- 
ments, and all the people met upon the simplest and 
most cordial terms of intimacy. Workingmen had the 
advantage of intercourse with men of the highest cul- 
ture ; the plowboy could spend his evenings in a library 
or at the fireside of some learned man who took delight 
in teaching him. Girls had equal advantages. Art, 
music, and all the branches of a refined education were 
at hand. The schools of New Harmony were as good 
as any then in the United States, and the facilities for 
direct contact with the strongest educational influences 
could not have been improved. 

But that which constituted the magnetic charm of 
life at New Harmony was also its source of weakness ; 
for where every door was open and every stranger 
welcome, impostors and unprincipled people of all de- 
scriptions were sure to congregate along with the best. 
It was the imposition of designing persons and the 
heavy load of worthless schemers that rendered Robert 
Owen's community unmanageable. To get rid of these 
the project had to be abandoned, so far as the commu- 
nistic feature was concerned. The lands were leased 
to individuals, and after the departure of Mr. Owen, 
the entire attention of Mr. Maclure and his associates 
was turned to the advancement of knowledge. Yet 
even then the visionary and crack-brained people to 
whom we so fittingly apply the name " crank " did not 
cease to make New Harmony their headquarters, much 
to the annoyance of those who were earnestly and un- 
selfishly working for the common good. 


When the offices and collections of the United States 
Geological Survey had been fixed at New Harmony, 
a new importance was attached to the private cabinets 
of natural history specimens already belonging to Mr. 
Maclure and others. Say had collected shells and in- 
sects, Maclure had a magnificent cabinet of fossils, 
and Dr. Parry's labors had brought together a most 
valuable collection of botanical specimens. The Work- 
ingmen's Library was at that time perhaps the best 
in many respects to be found in the United States. 
Many a tramp, with the bee of science in his brain 
and no money in his pockets, trudged from afar to 
reach this charming oasis in the desert of a hard life, 
flung down his worn staff and dirty pack, and rev- 
eled in books and dreams. 

Before Mr. Maclure went to Mexico, he set up an 
industrial school with the motto, " Utility shall be the 
scale on which we shall endeavor to measure the value 
of everything." It seems curiously incongruous that 
such a declaration of principle should go side by side 
with a theory based upon abstract intellectual methods 
of securing happiness; but then New Harmony was 
nothing if not divinely inharmonious in its schemes. 
The theories of Pestalozzi, of Robert Owen, of Les- 
quereux, and of Madame d'Arusmont made a capti- 
vating discord ; their very disagreements made them 

Madame d'Arusmont in 1825 purchased an estate in 
Tennessee, fourteen miles east of Memphis, to which she 
took a number of negro slaves. Her purpose was to dem- 
onstrate that the slaves could be made profitable and 


at the same time purchase their freedom by their labor. 
She imagined that it would be easy for her to convince 
the Southerners of the perfection of her scheme. She 
never dreamed that men owning slaves would demand 
all the profit of their work ! In a little while, however, 
she found out that she could not make even the least 
impression with her efforts at reform. She freed her 
slaves, sold her plantation, and gave up the attempt, 
one of the first ever made, to abolish involuntary servi- 
tude in the South. She took her freedmen to Haiti 
and put them in comfortable homes. She was best 
known under the name of Frances Wright, and was 
the author of various and curious writings upon social 

A journal, " The Disseminator," was established in 
January, 1828, at New Harmony by William Maclure, 
who made it the organ of industrial reform and the 
general diffusion of knowledge. It appeared semi- 
monthly. Its first motto was, " Ignorance is the fruit- 
ful cause of human misery " ; but later it was changed 
to, " We ought not, like the spider, to spin a web 
from our own reasons, but like the bee, visit every 
store and choose the most useful and the best," which 
somehow has in it a hint as of a change in the wind 
of feeling. Indeed, at that time, the whole plan of 
scientific investigation was passing from chaos to 
system, and it was at New Harmony that the present 
spirit of science took its first solid root-hold in 
America. " The Disseminator " addressed itself to 
the youth of the country from a high and dignified 
point of view. Its editorials and contributions were 


serious, argumentative, philosophical, always meant to 
provoke thought and to suggest reform. Its owner 
and editor, William Maclure, was the principal founder 
of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, 
and for a long time its president. He had tramped 
over a large part of the United States, making geo- 
logical examinations, collecting fossils, and publishing 
many papers on subjects connected with his work. 
To " The Disseminator," he brought all the accumula- 
tions of a long life of study. It was doubtless to his 
influence that Dr. Owen was largely indebted for the 
office of United States Geologist. At all events, he was 
looked upon as the " Father of American Geology," 
and his name is connected with nearly all of our early 
scientific operations. 

David Dale Owen entered upon his task of making 
a geological survey of the Northwest with great zeal 
and energy. It seems almost incredible that he com- 
pleted the work in two months, and made a report of 
it to Congress at the opening of its next session ! From 
Dr. J. Schnack's interesting pamphlet on New Harmony 
the following account of the survey is taken : — 

"A large number of men, many of them eminent 
scientists, were employed. The entire corps was divided 
into companies, each having an intelligent head to look 
after the work ; and to each company was allotted a 
district, in which every section was to be visited and 
samples of the rock, etc., collected. At stated points 
Dr. Owen would meet each camp and study the work 
accomplished. The country was almost without settle- 
ments, and each camp had to be supplied with hunters 


whose duty it was to furnish game for subsistence. . . . 
Dr. Owen carried with him on the trip up the Mississippi 
River a suite of the most important rocks, minerals, and 
reagents. These were exposed on a table in the cabin 
of the steamboat, and he would daily give his men 
instructions in geology and point out the characteristic 
rocks of the leading formations and the minerals that it 
was likely would be found in them. . . . The headquarters 
of the United States Geological Survey continued at 
New Harmony up to 1856, when at the completion of 
the Smithsonian Institution building at Washington, 
D.C., they were conveyed to that building. A part of 
the immense collection was taken to Washington, 
another to the Indiana State University at Blooming- 
ton, and a third to the American Museum of Natural 
History in Central Park, New York." 

It was Robert Dale Owen who did more than any 
other man to induce the United States government to 
found the Smithsonian Institution. He drew up and 
introduced in Congress the bill for that purpose, and 
when the work was accomplished he acted as a regent 
of the Institution. While he was in the Legislature of 
Indiana he labored vigorously for the rights of married 
women, and it was he who secured for the use of our 
public schools one half of the surplus revenue of the 
United States appropriated to the State of Indiana. 
In the convention which framed our present Indiana 
constitution, Mr. Owen tried to fix in the organic law 
a paragraph giving to married women full control of 
their estates ; but he failed. Afterwards in the Legis- 
lature, however, he introduced a bill for the same pur- 

i 5 6 

pose, which became a law. The statute has since been 
amended and enlarged, so that now married women in 
Indiana have almost equal rights with men. No won- 
der, then, that the London, England, "Times" and 
" Evening Star " should have said : " Indiana has 
attained the highest civilization of any State in the 
Union"! Mr. Owen wrote a letter to President Lin- 
coln on the 17th of September, 1862, urging him to 
issue a proclamation emancipating the slaves of the 
South. It was a powerful document, and Mr. Lin- 
coln said, " Its perusal stirred me like a trumpet 
call." Writing to Mr. Owen about the letter to 
Lincoln, Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, 
said, " It will be a satisfaction to you to know that 
your letter to the President had more influence on 
him than any other document which reached him on 
the subject; I think I might say than all others put 
together. I speak of that which I know from per- 
sonal conference with him." Truly a noteworthy 
statement. Five days after Mr, Owen's letter the 
Preliminary Proclamation was issued. It may almost 
be said that it originated in New Harmony ! Those 
who are fond of drawing hard and fast lines between 
Puritan and Cavalier, in the history and development 
of Indiana, may now proceed to consider Lincoln and 
Owen ; one a Kentucky boy reared in Indiana, the 
other a Scotchman, resident of Posey County. 

About the time of New Harmony's greatest pros- 
perity American ornithology was attracting attention 
all over the world. Wilson first, then Audubon, had 
sent forth epoch-making works on the subject, and 


naturalists from far and near were ranging the woods, 
prairies, and waters of our country. It was in the 
height of this period that Prince Maximilian of Neu- 
wied reached the village of New Harmony (October 19, 
1832), where he remained all winter. In May of the 
following year he came again and spent two months. 
He had with him an artist, a taxidermist, and other 
skilled assistants. During his stay in America he 
worked with great industry, observing and collecting. 
The American Museum of Natural History in New 
York city has a fine collection of ornithological speci- 
mens made by him. 

Of course the romantic conditions and the somewhat 
accidental glory of New Harmony could not last very 
long. Things were changing very rapidly in Indiana. 
Many excellent colleges and beautiful social centers had 
been formed. The secluded village on the Wabash 
gradually lost its preeminent men. The death of 
Maclure and Say, the departure of Robert Dale Owen, 
the removal of the United States Survey's geological 
office and collections, Lessueur's return to France, and 
the loss of those distinguished visitors and sojourners 
with whom the town used to be filled, deadened its 
glory, and shut away from it in a large degree the at- 
tention of the world. And think of it ! the theater so 
carefully decorated by the brush of Lessueur with 
paintings of scenes in Switzerland, the haunts of 
''William Tell," was taken for a pork house. Art and 
science and the idyllic life dreamed of by gentle-hearted 
theorists gave way to the practical spirit of American 

i 5 8 

What now remains of the old town's glory is chiefly 
the record of its eminent citizens. True, some of the 
quaint Dutchlike houses are there, the Workingmen's 
Library is still kept up, and many of the old families 
have preserved interesting relics of the palmy days. 
One such object of interest is the old lecture desk at 
which so many men and women of world-wide fame 
stood when reading to the select audiences of critics. 

At present New Harmony is a quiet little town very 
much given over to the ordinary business of village 
commerce. It stands in the midst of a beautiful and 
fertile region where agriculture pays large dividends, 
and where peace, health, and prosperity reign. The 
people are refined and intelligent; society keeps' up the 
traditions of the old romantic time, and the visitor feels 
in the air a certain trace of distinction. But the great 
school of science, the coterie formed by those gifted 
dreamers, is gone forever. Even as early as 1840 Dr. 
George Engelmann, a botanist of note, was sadly dis- 
appointed after riding on horseback a long journey to 
New Harmony. He was eagerly expecting to find a 
humming swarm of scientists ; but when he arrived and 
looked around, all was still in the empty hive from 
which the bees had flown. He made a note that the 
only thing he found "was the broad-fruited maple in 
bloom ". ! 


ONE of the famous men who for a time 
called the attention of the whole scien- 
tific world to the little town of New Harmony, 
was Constantine Samuel Rafmesque. And 
if there ever lived a person entitled, by nat- 
ural gift and by personal acquirements, to 
supreme distinction as an oddity, it was he. 
All accounts touching him agree that our 
expressive slang word, " crank," would fit 
him as a glove should fit one's hand, yet 
the simplest glance at the outline of his life and 
labors will show that underneath his peculiarities lay 
a splendid genius. 

Rafmesque was born in Constantinople, Turkey, in 
1784, while his father, a Frenchman, was in mercantile 
business there. His mother was a Greek woman of 
German ancestry. All the early years of his life were 
spent in various ramblings, going to school, and read- 
ing accounts of voyages, explorations, and discoveries. 
From his own account it is clear that he received no 
regular education. He was never at any college, and it 
is not probable that he had a good, honest, working 
knowledge of any branch of science ; but his mind 
was wonderfully active, brilliant, and comprehensive. 



What he lacked in point of accuracy, he made up with 
his breadth of grasp and his tremendous capacity for 
work. It seems that during his whole life he never 
rested and was never tired. 

Dr. David Starr Jordan, formerly President of the 
Indiana State University, gives a very interesting sketch 
of Rafinesque in his book entitled "Science Sketches," 
from which some of the biographical matter of these 
pages is taken. It may be that President Jordan, being 
himself a most eminent master of ichthyology, and 
having at his command all of the great results achieved 
by pioneers in science, as well as by recent specialists 
trained like himself in the most liberal schools, takes 
too light a view of what Rafinesque' s life amounted to. 
At all events, the attitude of scientific men toward their 
eccentric but gifted brother is not quite susceptible of 
altogether favorable construction in their behalf ; and 
this President Jordan indirectly admits, while according 
Rafinesque considerable claims to learning. 

The first step taken by Rafinesque in the way of 
work tending toward natural science, was writing and 
publishing a paper of " Notes on the Apennines " when 
he was but twelve years old. That puerile sketch con- 
tained his observations taken down while traveling be- 
tween Leghorn and Genoa. Most of what he saw was 
from the back of a mule, riding which probably gave 
him a lifelong distaste for equestrian locomotion, as 
he ever afterwards preferred to go on foot in the guise 
of a tramp, whenever a journey, long or short, became 

In person Rafinesque was lean, dark, wiry, nervous, 


with a sharp face, a high, full forehead, dark, deep-set 
eyes, and a long nose. All the marks indicative of 
restlessness and intense mental alertness were strongly 
set in his bloodless, sallow countenance. His first 
active life in America was that of a clerk in a store 
in Philadelphia ; but the business of selling goods and 
the pursuit of botany and ornithology were not suited 
to each other, wherefore we soon find him tramping 
around in the woods and fields of Pennsylvania and 
Virginia. At that time Thomas Jefferson was known 
to be very much interested in natural science. So to 
him young Rafmesque went, calling at the great states- 
man's home with a head full of discoveries, and doubt- 
less with very odd-looking and dirty clothes on his back. 
Mr. Jefferson treated him kindly, but evidently was 
not over favorably impressed. The plain truth is that 
Rafmesque lacked personal magnetism ; he was, indeed, 
if not repulsive, at least not attractive in disposition, 
and wherever he went he managed to make the impres- 
sion that he was a queer fellow out upon some sort of 
visionary errand. He says in his rambling autobiog- 
raphy that he studied fifty or more different languages, 
besides Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Sanskrit, and Chinese ! 
In another sweeping statement regarding himself he 
says that he " knew more languages than all the Ameri- 
can colleges united," which may have been true. 

In 1805, Rafmesque, at the age of twenty-one, went 
to the island of Sicily, where he again tried to mix busi- 
ness with science. And for a time he was in the way 
of making money out of his botany, for he discovered 
in Sicily the squill, once so much used in lung diseases 

STO. OF IND. — 1 1 

1 62 

and in various other ailments, and set about making 
merchandise of it. But he could not stick to commerce 
with a whole sea full of fishes at his feet. In 1810 he 
published two books full of descriptions of Mediter- 
ranean fishes, and turned to the distilling of brandy by 
a process of his own. Here again he made money ; 
but he did not like the business, so he gave it up, and 
in 181 5 he left Sicily to come back to America. He 
had a vast collection of shells, plants, manuscripts, and 
drawings in his possession at the time. 

It is quite probable that a visit of the naturalist 
Swainson to Sicily was the cause of Rafinesque's deter- 
mination to give up his Sicilian studies and return to 
America. At that time our country was attracting the 
keenest interest of scientists ; it was a great open field 
for original work. The War of 18 12 had ended, the 
Indian troubles were over ; nothing lay across the path 
of the explorer; and already rumors of great things 
being done in our wildernesses had crossed the Atlantic. 
Wilson's monumental work, the " American Ornithol- 
ogy," had just appeared in full, and the history of 
Lewis and Clark's expedition was being greedily read. 
A restless, inquiring mind, like Rafinesque's, would 
easily catch inspiration from the thought of what might 
be done in the study of American plants and fishes. 

Swainson, before his visit to Sicily, had been inter- 
ested in American natural history, and he doubtless 
found Rafinesque possessed of considerable information 
of value to him. The two men became quite intimate, 
tramping together over the hills in search of plants, in- 
sects, animals, or whatever else they could find that prom- 


ised to be of scientific interest. During this time Swain- 
son, as Rafinesque tells us, was intent upon a study of 
Sicilian butterflies, and not being able to speak Italian, 
was one clay, while busy with his butterfly net, near 
being stoned out of a field by the peasants, who mistook 
him for a searcher after buried Greek treasures ; but 
Rafinesque interfered and saved him. Doubtless Swain- 
son talked much of America and its naturalists with 
whom he was in correspondence, and thus fired the 
erratic Frenchman with a new ambition. 

In those days steamships were not plying between 
Sicily and America, or between any other two countries. 
For six months a sailing vessel beat about at the mercy 
of the winds with Rafinesque on board, and just as he 
came in sight of the American shore, one of his inevi- 
table mishaps turned all his long-nursed anticipations 
into something very disappointing; for the ship went 
upon a rock off the mouth of the harbor at New Lon- 
don, and sank. Rafinesque got ashore with the loss of 
all his collections and manuscripts, his fortune, his share 
in the ship's cargo — everything except " some scattered 
funds and some little insurance money." But his energy 
and ambition showed no falling off, and after various 
undertakings and countless excursions into the country 
with a view to discoveries, he set out upon a journey 
down the Ohio River. 

The world-wide fame made by Alexander Wilson with 
his " American Ornithology " seems to have urged Rafi- 
nesque forward to undertake some great work of a like 
nature ; but he had not Wilson's power of concentra- 
ting himself upon a single subject. One day he was 


studying fishes, the next he was examining Indian 
mounds, and the third day, perhaps, found him poring 
over a history of creation ; but all the while he was 
loaded like a pack mule with specimens of plants, as 
he trudged on his lonely way from settlement to settle- 
ment. Hardships had no effect upon him, disappoint- 
ments did but whet his energies. And so one day he 
reached New Harmony and joined the circle of scien- 
tists there. He arrived on foot "with a notebook in 
one hand and a hickory stick in the other," and his 
clothes were by no means fashionable ; but he made a 
lasting impression upon every person who saw him. 

A loose, long coat, a waistcoat buttoned to the chin, 
and baggy trousers, all of yellow nankeen, soiled with 
dirt and stained with plant juice, gave to his gaunt, bony 
figure a peculiarly ungraceful appearance. He wore a 
long black beard, and his hair hung upon his shoulders 
in dark, stringlike locks as straight as an Indian's. He 
was given prompt welcome at New Harmony ; the place 
was an open and free asylum for men of his sort, and 
its library and vast collections of geological, paleonto- 
logical, botanical, and other natural history specimens 
made it a most interesting and convenient stopping 
place for a roving student. 

It gives us the safest possible measure of what the 
condition of civilization in Indiana and the West really 
was at that time, to find the pursuit of knowledge 
attracting so much attention, while the men who made 
that pursuit the chief object of their lives were received 
everywhere with sincere enthusiasm and given hospi- 
tality unstinted. Rafinesque had no difficulty, notwith- 

i6 5 

standing his eccentricities and his forbidding appearance, 
in finding entertainment and help wherever he went ; 
but a great many amusing stories were told of his 
adventures while tramping over the country collecting 
botanical specimens. 

Early one morning a farmer heard a man shouting 
for help, his thin voice rising very clearly above the 
baying of three or four " 'coon dogs." It was not yet 
broad daylight ; for the sun had not risen. The farmer 
went out to see what his pack of dogs could be doing 
to make a man shriek and yell in such evident frenzy 
of fright. His log house stood about fifty yards from 
a road upon which the front gate of his yard opened. 
At the first look he saw what he thought was a strange, 
huge, nondescript animal, perched on the top of the 
gatepost, while the dogs were jumping upward, trying 
to nip its legs, meantime barking discordantly. 

Back into the house sprang the farmer, and snatching 
down his gun from the wall ran forth again ; he did not 
purpose to let that "curious humpbacked varmint" 
escape if a bullet could kill it. But where was the man 
whose voice kept up such a shouting ? Why, there he 
was on the gatepost, in the deadly clutch of that terri- 
ble, formless monster above him ! In a moment the 
gun would have been used ; but fortunately some move- 
ment disclosed just what was on the gatepost. 

The good farmer took a searching survey of the 
grotesque object, then lowered his gun and laughed. 
The man on the post turned out to be Rafmesque, and 
what had looked like some formless, devouring beast of 
prey was but a huge bundle of plants on his back ! In 

1 66 

due time the dogs were beaten off, and Rafinesque had 
a good breakfast at the farmer's table. He had slept 
all night under a tree a mile or two away. After satis- 
fying his hunger, he offered to pay for the meal ; but 
his host declined the money. 

" You are very kind, sir," said Rafinesque, "and I 
thank you ; but no gentleman having a proper respect 
for mankind would keep four such vicious hounds as 
those of yours." Then he shouldered his bag of plant 
specimens and trudged away. The farmer looked at 
him as he went, and was of half a mind to give him a 
kick or two. " But," said he, in telling the story, " I 
couldn't keep from laughing, to save me. He was the 
outlandishest-looking human being that I ever saw. 
And he was as smart as lightning, too. Seemed as if he 
could bore right through a fellow with those eyes of his." 


Rafinesque did not stay long at New Harmony ; it is 
probable that the refined circle of people there did not 
prove very attractive to him ; his roving disposition soon 
reasserted itself, and off he went in quest of additions to 
his cumbersome pack. 

Although not a college-bred man, Rafinesque was, as 
President Jordan suggests, the first professor of natural 
science in a college of the West. He was appointed 
to teach natural history and the modern languages in 
Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky ; but, 
although admitted as a professor, he was at first refused 
the degree of Master of Arts because he " had not 
studied Greek in a college." However, he insisted 
upon the honor as his right, and after much worry 
received it. 

During his connection with Transylvania University 
Rafinesque became acquainted with Audubon, who was 
then just fairly beginning the studies for his great orni- 
thological work, and at the same time 'keeping a little 
grocery in Henderson. The great Creole artist showed 
his drawings of birds to Rafinesque, and " took him in," 
in two senses of the phrase, as will appear by what fol- 
lowed upon a certain meeting of the two extremely dis- 
similar naturalists. Rafinesque fancied himself quite 
a draughtsman, but his almost innumerable drawings 
denied his claim to serious consideration in that behalf. 
He greatly admired Audubon's finely executed pictures, 
and expected a return of the compliment. But when 
Frenchman meets Frenchman, honors are not always 
easy. Audubon, with sly malice, told some great stories 
of certain wonderful fishes and birds that he had met 

1 68 

with in his excursions down the river. These unknown 
species he sketched for Rafinesque, who afterwards fig- 
ured, named, and described them, when in fact they 
were but imaginary things palmed off upon him by 
Audubon. Still, according to Audubon's own account, 
Rafinesque came out even with him in the long run ; 
but not by any effort at retaliation. 

Audubon was entertaining Rafinesque, and after an 
evening spent in conversation upon natural history and 
science, the guest was shown to his room. Some time 
later, when the household were in bed, there arose a 
great clatter in the chamber occupied by Rafinesque. 
Running and stamping, the jostling of furniture, and a 
certain resonant thumping were all jumbled together in 
a lively confusion of noises. What could be the matter? 
Audubon ran to see, and upon opening the guest room 
door, saw Rafinesque capering wildly round and round, 
and slashing at some flying bats with his host's Cre- 
mona violin, which he had broken all to pieces. The 
bats had entered the room through an open window, 
and Rafinesque was trying to kill one, thinking they 
belonged to a new species. 

It was while Rafinesque was tramping around in 
Indiana that he met a well-known itinerant preacher 
in a lonely little road some miles from any settlement. 
The naturalist had lost his way, so he stopped the 
preacher, who was on horseback, and made some in- 
quiries. These were satisfactorily answered, and then 
came the preacher's turn to ask some questions. 

"What have you in that bag on your back?" was 
the first one. 


" Plants," said Rafinesque, curtly. 

" Oh, you're a steam doctor, eh ? " suggested the par- 
son, for second query. 

In a moment Rafinesque was furious. He cast aside 
his load and faced the other man, with clinched hands 
and flaming eyes. 

" I am Constantine Samuel Rafinesque," he cried ; 
" the greatest traveler and naturalist now living or that 
ever lived ! Who are you ? " 

The parson had heard of Rafinesque as a man of 
great attainments, and so, to turn aside his anger, dis- 
mounted from his horse, and said : — 

" I am proud to meet a man so distinguished. I have 
often heard of you. You must be foot-sore and weary ; 
mount my horse; I will walk beside you." 

Rafinesque picked up his pack and set off at a rapid 
pace, muttering back over his shoulder as he went, 
" A steam doctor ! Ugh ! A steam doctor, indeed ! " 
He would have nothing more to do with the preacher, 
and he scorned his horse. It may be worth while to 
mention here that a " steam doctor " in those days was, 
generally speaking, not a man of much science ; often 
enough he was not even reasonably intelligent. His 
pills were of white walnut bark, and he carried around 
with him a rude apparatus for steaming his ague- 
stricken patients. In time, the phrase " steam doctor " 
took on the meaning of quack ; but in fact, those rustic 
practitioners cured many a person of bilious and mala- 
rial disorders. Rafinesque took it as a deliberate insult 
when the preacher innocently classed him with back- 
woods physicians. 


While he was connected with Transylvania Univer- 
sity, he very much desired the degree of M.D., but 
could not get it because he refused to attend operations 
in the dissecting room. His resentment was exceed- 
ingly bitter, and when he found that the president of 
the university had entered his room and removed from 
it his books and collections, he took leave of the college 
"with curses," as he states it, on the president and on 
the institution. These curses, he adds, "reached them 
both soon after; for Holley [the president] died of 
yellow fever in New Orleans, and the college was 
burned with all its contents." 

Rafmesque had an inventive genius, but his inability 
to resist attempting everything at once caused him to 
fritter away his energies without realizing any of the 
rewards due to his enormous labors. He invented a 
new method of distilling brandy from fruit, a system 
of coupon bonds, fireproof houses, a steam plow, and 
many other things. It was he who propounded the 
theory that our North American Indians were of Jewish 
descent, and came "from Asia by way of Siberia," thus 
accounting for the lost tribes of Israel. He was for a 
time enthusiastic in the study of Indian dialects and cus- 
toms, upon which he wrote with his customary assump- 
tion of thorough scholarship. Indeed, he did not hesitate 
to claim mastery over the entire universe of knowledge. 
"A Complete History of the Globe" was one work he 
had in mind, and among other things he tried to write 
poetry. He published many small books and pam- 
phlets, most of which have been long out of print ; some 
of them are highly valued by collectors. 


Seen from this distance, Rafinesque looks like a self- 
ish, unsociable, overbearing egotist. He certainly was 
cordially disliked by his fellow-botanists, whose work he 
unsparingly, and with much justice, criticised. But if 
they were wrong, so was he. He imagined that they 
all had conspired to put him down because of his supe- 
rior knowledge. They at first made sport of him, then 
turned their backs upon him and left him to suffer in 
obscurity. He died in Philadelphia, a pauper, and his 
landlord held his dead body, hoping to sell it to sur- 
geons for a clinical subject in order to realize his claim 
for lodging. A good physician, however, got possession 
of the remains, and there was a decent burial, albeit Rafi- 
nesque's grave cannot now be found. The man who 
had mastered more than fifty languages, who had trav- 
eled and studied far and wide, who had been engaged in 
twenty-seven different callings, and who had labored so 
persistently in the cause of science, died in destitution 
at the age of fifty-six, to be hidden in an unknown 

He must have been a rare genius as well as a distin- 
guished oddity, for no man who ever came into Indiana 
during the early years of her history has left so singular 
an impression, or a more lasting one. Many years ago, 
the present writer undertook to gather facts touching 
Rafinesque's labors and adventures in the southern part 
of the State. At that time not a few men were alive 
who had seen the strange naturalist or had heard anec- 
dotes of his eccentricities. But his influence for good 
seems to have been the example he set of persistence, 
energy, and the direct application of study to nature. 


He inspired students to go out and look for living, 
growing specimens, instead of depending wholly upon 
the collections of others. In fact, he was the greatest 
collector of his time, and the greatest student. His 
unfortunate Ishmaelite disposition doubtless did more 
than all other circumstances put together to make his 
work unpopular. Had he been willing to consult with 
his brethren in science, and to take in good part their 
suggestions and criticisms, there is no telling how far 
his influence and superior knowledge would have gone. 
His discoveries were many and important; but his 
part in them is forgotten, while his queer garb, his 
shapeless pack, and his many grotesque adventures 
survive. Agassiz said of him that he " had collected 
a vast amount of information, from all parts of the 
States, upon a variety of subjects then entirely new 
to science." Professor Copeland declares him to have 
been the greatest in the extent and range of his accom- 
plishments of all the naturalists of his time in America. 
But where now are the wonderful collections that were 
the fruit of his intelligent and untiring industry? Where 
are his many books, pamphlets, and monographs ? No 
one can tell. Why ? 

Rafmesque was lost in a great trough of the sea 
of change. He was caught between the wave of the 
old and the wave of the new. He felt that innovation 
was necessary, that almost everything in the methods 
of science must be reformed, and he attempted to 
enforce his own schemes, no matter who opposed them. 
He brought about his own downfall, but it was the 
worse for science that his inferiors could not or would 


not recognize his stupendous genius and help to make 
the most of his crude yet invaluable labors. 

We may well close this brief sketch with an anec- 
dote illustrative of Rafinesque's absolute devotion to 
the advancement of knowledge. Late in the spring he 
was tramping through a thinly settled part of southern 
Indiana, with his bag of plants on his back, as usual, 
when one day he came to a log schoolhouse. It was 
the noon hour, and the boys and girls of the school 
were playing noisily together in a small open space 
in front of the house, inside of which the pedagogue 
was reading a book. Suddenly there was a lull in the 
babel of voices ; then the teacher 
heard a man talking. For some 
time he did not ^'^X 
trouble himself to "^Sre"'; .iMfcr 
go and see who it i -^«T 
was, but after a 
while his curios- 
ity was aroused. 

Stepping to a 
window, he beheld 
Rafinesque, al- 
though at that 
time he did not 
know him, stand- 
ing in the midst of the schol- 
ars and delivering to them a lecture upon botany, which 
he was illustrating with specimens from his bag. The 
teacher listened and was fascinated, as were the young 
people crowding around ; but when he stepped forth 


from the house and joined the audience, Rafinesque 
hurriedly shouldered his collection and without another 
word departed. 

It is safe to say that not one of the members of 
that school ever forgot the long-haired, bright-eyed 
man, with the towering forehead and peculiar voice, 
who so charmingly entertained them on their play- 
ground with curious facts about the life and growth 
of plants. Nor did they wonder at his leaving the 
moment that their teacher appeared ; for, fearing the 
pedagogue themselves and trembling whenever he ap- 
proached them, they naturally supposed that the wise 
stranger was also scared within an inch of his life at 
the first sight of him. In fact, it was Rafinesque's 
deep-seated contempt for American teachers and their 
methods that took him off. 


THE early settlers of Indiana had to contend against 
invisible as well as visible foes. No part of Amer- 
ica outside of the tropics was more subject to malarial 
visitations than were the rich, flat lands of our State 
before our present system of drainage removed the 
cause. The vast, dense forests in whose damp shade 
immense accumulations of leaves, fallen timber, and 
other vegetable remains lay rotting from year to year, 
and the innumerable collections of putrid stagnant 
water, exhaled poisonous gases with which, especially 
in the autumn, the air was burdened. 

The story of suffering from chills and fever, or 
"ague," would, if conscientiously written, form a most 
pathetic part of our history. For many years after the 
first settlement of the country, almost every family was 
stricken with some form of the disease, the most com- 
mon being a chill, followed immediately by a high 
fever, the attack recurring " every other day"; that is, 
the victim would have an ill day and a well day alter- 
nately. Sometimes, however, the chill and fever came 
on every day at the same hour, and so violent were the 
paroxysms of shaking that the bed upon which the sick 
person lay would creak and rattle and even make the 
cabin floor vibrate. So general was this plague that 



people became somewhat indifferent regarding it, tak- 
ing its visitation quite as a matter of course. 

But it was really a very dreadful disease, and so 
difficult to get rid of that it would last for months and 
even years, sometimes ending in consumption or some 
other fatal organic trouble. Notwithstanding the dan- 
ger and pain it inflicted, the exigencies of pioneer life 
would not permit an ague-stricken man or woman to 
give up and quit work. Day after day the plowman 
trudged behind his plow with the rigor or the burning 
fever upon him, while his equally afflicted wife drudged 
at the washtub and cooked over an open fire. Mean- 
time two or three children lay in bed, or upon pallets 
on the floor, convulsed with ague or delirious with a 
burning brain. 

Some of the jokes made at the expense of chill-and- 
fever victims were grim enough, and many anecdotes 
coming down to us by tradition are touched with a 
curiously raw humor. It is told of one man that he had 
had the chills so long and so regularly that, when at 
last a day went by without a shake, he seemed dazed 
and bewildered, and looked as if he had lost something 
and was troubled to know what it was. Finally he said 
to his wife, — " Sally, I've forgotten to do something 
to-day that I ought to have attended to. What do you 
reckon it can be ? " 

"I'm sure I don't know, Dave," answered the good 

Then he thought it over a long while in silence, until 
presently he sprang up and exclaimed, — " I'll tell you ! 
I remember now ! Sally, I haven't had any ague to-day ! " 


"That's so, Dave," responded the wife, with a dry 
smile. " That's so, and I guess you'd better get at it 
if you're a-going to. It's almost dark." 

It was a saying among backwoods folk that if you 
wanted to have a chill, you need only go sit on a stump 
in the September sunshine and look at a late cucumber. 
If that failed to fetch one, you might confidently try 
a slice of frosty watermelon. A man was 
passing through a forest, hunting for a stray 
cow and calf, when he came upon a neigh- 
bor sitting on a log, with his rifle across 
his knees. " Hello ! what 
are you doing here, John ? " 
he called out. 

John looked up dole- 
fully, his teeth rattling 
together and his whole 
frame quivering. "I'm 
a-waiting for my ague to 
go off, so I can hold my 
gun steady enough to 
shoot that squirrel up 
there," he replied, pointing 

with his shaking finger at the little animal crouching 
amid the topmost twigs of a tall oak. The cow-hunter 
kindly took the gun and shot the squirrel for his 

Speaking of shooting recalls the story about a man 
who was noted for his bad marksmanship. He could 
not hit anything, "not even a barn door," some of his 
friends would facetiously say ; but he went to every 

STO. OF IND. — 12 

i 7 8 

shooting match that he could hear of, always return- 
ing home empty-handed and minus the money spent 
for the right to compete. One day, just after he had 
arrived at the place where a grand match was being 
held, a chill seized upon him. At the worst part of his 
paroxysm, he was called out to take his shot at the 
mark, the prize being a two-hundred-pound pig ready 
dressed for the smokehouse. He pleaded his shaky 
condition and begged for time; but the judges decided 
that, as it was well known that he could not " hit a 
corncrib fifty yards away at ten shots, there was no 
use waiting for him all day," and he was ordered to 
toe the mark and face the target or lose his chance 
in the match. 

" Here goes, then," he exclaimed, and, shaking from 
head to foot, he stepped to his place, raised his gun, 
and fired. While he was trying to take aim, some wag 
cried out, " Look at him, how he wabbles ! " Every- 
body present laughed. Bang ! went the gun, and a 
moment later the marker down at the target bawled 
out, " Dead center ! " The shot had won the pig. By 
pure accident, the trigger had been touched just at the 
right time. " Everything's for some good," muttered 
the lucky man, " and now I know what the ague's good 
for. It's to steady a fellow's nerves when he's at a 
shooting match ! " But he was never known to win 
after that. Perhaps a chill and a shooting match did 
not again coincide. 

Ague and various forms of malarial fever continued 
to be the scourge of Indiana until open and tile ditches, 
the clearing up of the forests, and the finely drained 


highways now so common, had removed the stagnant 
waters and thoroughly aerated the damp soil of our 
rich flat lands. At present there is, perhaps, not a 
more healthful State in our country ; indeed, Indiana 
is noted for the vigor, activity, and longevity of its 

There was one disease peculiar to the new r country 
which to this day remains a mystery. Men of science 
have tried in vain to find out the cause of it. Both 
people and cattle were subject to it, and its effect was 
often deadly. " Milk-sick " was the common name for 
it, as it was generally thought that people took it from 
drinking milk or eating butter which had been poisoned 
by something in the food of the cows. Entire families 
would die of it within a few days, or the afflicted ones 
would linger in great agony through a long, slow conva- 
lescence ; but usually death came within ten days after 
the attack began, or the victim got well. Many intelli- 
gent people contended that the disease was not caused 
by eating the milk, butter, or beef of poisoned cattle, 
and some even denied the existence of such a disease. 
The controversy was a warm one ; as in the case of 
rabies, even doctors differing about its origin and actual 
existence. Still there can be no doubt that there was 
a terrible and mysterious malady called milk-sick, of 
which people and farm stock died in great numbers 
over a large part of Indiana. 

It is quite certain that the ailment, whatever it was, 
troubled neither human nor beast after the country 
became thickly settled and cultivated grains and pas- 
tures were substituted for the wild herbage which was 


the only food of pioneer cattle during a large part of 
the year. It seems probable that a vegetable alkaloid 
poison may have been the cause of the trouble. Some 
wild plant, insignificant in size, may have secreted the 
poison, and the plant itself may have disappeared when 
agriculture became general. Most people thought that 
certain- springs and little boggy spots of ground were 
the sources of infection or poison, either the water itself 
or some plant growing near it being the immediate 
agent. Cattle would drop dead at these springs, and 
when a small area of surrounding land was fenced in, 
the trouble would cease. Yet years afterwards when 
the water was tested it was found absolutely pure and 
wholesome. Nor could the analysis of any plant grow- 
ing near by account for the dread sickness. 

It will be fairly understood how real milk-sick was, 
and with what terror it was regarded, when a few in- 
stances of its history are recorded. A man by the 
name of Lee came to Indiana about 1819 and settled 
below Terre Haute, near the mouth of Honey Creek, 
where he made him a good farm and began to prosper ; 
but presently his family, his horses, and his cattle were 
stricken with milk-sick, and he abandoned his farm on 
that account. Indeed, instances of this sort might be 
cited until a volume of ordinary size would not hold 
them. If it became pretty well authenticated by per- 
sistent rumor that a neighborhood or area of country 
was " subject to milk-sick," as the people expressed it, 
land became unsalable there, and for this reason it was 
very seldom that any person would say outright that the 
disease had ever been in his vicinity. " As hard to locate 


as the milk-sick " was a saying to express something of 
extremely dubious whereabouts. " No, we've never had 
any milk-sick anywhere about here," was the answer 
to every inquiry ; " but just over the river in the Rickets 
settlement they've had it terribly." It was a standing 
joke, — for pioneers would have their fun at all hazards, 
— that a rail pen around a spring would make land titles 
worthless throughout a whole county. As late as 1870, 
however, there were still a few places in Indiana where 
dangerous areas — that is, little patches of ground sup- 
posed to be poisonous to cattle — were inclosed and not 
used for pasture for fear of milk-sick. Now a man 
would probably be laughed at were he to inquire about 
such a disease in any part of our State. 

The fact that land anywhere near a place where milk- 
sick was known to exist, was almost unsalable, made 
it next to impossible to investigate the cause of the 
disease. The man of science was kept upon a "wild- 
goose chase " from the moment that he made inquiries 
on the subject. No landowner was willing to admit 
that such a malad) had ever been heard of in his 
neighborhood, until after he had sold his farm, and it 
was considered an insult to be resented, sometimes even 
to death, when it was alleged that a man's premises had 
a source of the plague, or that his cattle or his family 
had suffered from it. Some of the finest tracts of land 
in Indiana were for many years unoccupied on account 
of springs which were said to cause the death of cattle. 
Judge Thomas F. Davidson in his historical sketch of 
Fountain County describes one of these springs, around 
which were found the skeletons of many animals. 


A Baptist minister by the name of Isaac McCoy was 
at the head of an Indian mission on Raccoon Creek, 
not far from Terre Haute. Being a man of marked 
ability, McCoy attracted a great deal of attention to his 
religious work. A Methodist minister visited the Mis- 
sion and facetiously reported that it was a "place where 
bullfrogs and Baptists flourished in buttonwood swamps." 
Hearing of this, McCoy retorted that he had noticed 
the fact that " Methodists and milk-sick invariably en- 
tered a neighborhood at about the same time." "And 
what the milk-sick doesn't kill, the Methodists convert," 
was the closing rejoinder. In those days even theology 
had its grim jokes. 

Another source of constant and serious trouble to 
frontier people was the existence of venomous reptiles 
of the deadliest kinds. In many places rattlesnakes 
and copperheads were so numerous that it was danger- 
ous to step anywhere without first looking for a snake. 
Probably a majority of the younger generation now 
living in Indiana have never seen a poisonous reptile. 
Although the popular impression is that some of our 
common snakes are deadly, the fact is well settled that 
only the copperhead and the rattlesnake have genuine 
envenomed fangs, and fortunately these species have 
almost disappeared from our thickly settled and highly 
improved agricultural districts, so that now it is seldom 
we hear of death by snake-bite. 

The time was, however, when cows, horses, and even 
dogs fell victims to the poison of a lurking and vicious 
enemy striking from a hiding place in canebrake, prairie 
grass, or woodland thicket. The rattlesnake usually 


sounded a peculiar warning noise before delivering its 
deadly blow, but the copperhead struck in silence. 
Neither was a respecter of persons, age, or sex. Babes 
crawling upon the cabin floor were sometimes bitten. 
A copperhead's fanged jaws would dart forth with 
arrowlike swiftness and precision between the loose 
puncheons, and death in most horrible form would 
nearly always swiftly follow. The mother, perhaps, 
busy with her household work, heard her child scream, 
but too late to save it. 

Rattlesnakes were often found lurking in the smoke- 
houses of the settlers, and under the floors of corncribs 
and other outbuildings. They were usually much larger 
than the copperheads ; but the latter, in places where 
they were numerous, were even more dreaded, as they 
were supposed to be worse tempered, and their venom 
more deadly. The present writer, in his childhood, 
heard a story, vouched for as true by excellent people, 
of three children that were left at home while their 
parents went to attend to some business in a neigh- 
boring village. Two of the children were twin girls, 
five years old ; the third was a boy of nine. Only a 
year previous to that time a brother to these children 
had been killed by the bite of a rattlesnake. On this 
account the mother, at setting out, gave strict orders 
against going into the wood hard by during her absence, 
which would be not longer than three hours. But the 
weather was hot, and the trees looked inviting. Under 
their dense canopy was dark, cool shade. The little 
boy could not resist doing just what he had been told 
not to do, and so he slipped away from the twin sis- 

1 84 

ters, and was soon running wild in the edge of the 

He had not long enjoyed his delicious freedom when 
he heard his sisters begin screaming at the top of their 
voices. With his heart jumping almost out of his mouth, 
he ran to the house, and found the twins in a large 
empty box, or bin, under a lean-to shed at the back of 
the cabin. One of them was at one end of the bin, the 
other crouched against the opposite end ; both were 
convulsed with terror, while coiled on the middle of the 
half-rotten and badly broken bin floor was a huge rattle- 
snake, its tail whizzing keenly, and its neck stiffly arched, 
ready to strike. One glance was sufficient to curdle the 
poor boy's blood ; but he was a brave little fellow, and 
had no thought of weakly giving up to fright and hor- 
ror. He had the pioneer's bellicose spirit strongly de- 
veloped in his small but sturdy body. After a moment's 
shivering hesitation, he turned courageously to the task 
of rescuing his little sisters before the monster should 
strike them. 

The bin was about fifteen feet long, four feet wide, 
and three feet deep. Its puncheon bottom was decayed 
and had some holes in it. The snake had doubtless 
been lying under the floor when the children climbed 
over the side, and their movements on the loose slabs 
disturbed and irritated it, causing it to crawl up through 
one of the holes. As it sluggishly wriggled its dappled 
body above the floor, the twins screamed and retreated 
to the extremities of the bin, but were too much fright- 
ened to think of trying to climb out. The snake being 
midway between them could strike neither of them 

i8 5 

without going nearer, and it seemed to be hesitating 
which one to approach. All the time its tail was buzz- 
ing, and its narrow eyes gleamed wickedly. 

The little boy's mind worked like lightning. In a 
moment he thought of what to do and was doing it. 
He ran into the house, where a pot of hominy was 
slowly boiling in lye on the huge crane over the fire. 
One of his duties during his mother's absence was to 
put more lye and water into the pot as fast as it boiled 
low. A half-gallon gourd lay on the hearth. With it 
he dipped from the pot all the lye it would hold, along 
with a considerable quantity of hominy, all of which was 
fiery hot, and ran forth again to the side of the bin. 
As he did this, the snake turned viciously toward him ; 

but he did not shrink. With a quick movement he 
leaned over the tightly coiled body, and poured the 
whole of the seething hot lye and hominy full upon 

1 86 

it. At the same time the deep hollow of the gourd, as 
he let it fall, caught the snake's head, so that its first 
wild stroke was harmless. The boiling lye instantly 
destroyed the monster's eyes, and while it writhed and 
tumbled the brave lad dragged his sisters out of the 
bin and saved them. A few minutes later the parents 
arrived, but the snake was dead and the children were 
poking at its body with a hoe handle. 

Whiskey administered freely was considered the best 
possible remedy for the bite of a copperhead or a 
rattlesnake. The injured person was made to drink, 
as quickly as possible, large draughts of that fiery in- 
toxicant. The following was told early in the century, 
not as a mere snake story, but as an event in a family's 
history. A man and his neighbor were in a crib, shell- 
ing some corn. They were sitting on the floor, near 
an empty barrel which had been turned top end down 
close to the wall, one edge of its rim resting upon a 
corncob heap. While working away, one of the men 
put his hand close to the barrel, and at that instant out 
flashed a head from under the rim, once, twice, three 
times, in rapid succession, striking him on the fingers. 
The blows were light, giving little pain, mere stinging 
taps ; but the awful words, " A copperhead ! " told what 
they meant — the doom of death. 

Both men rushed to the house, and the wounded one 
drank a pint of whiskey, almost at a single gulp. At 
the same time a cord was tied tightly around his wrist, 
to prevent the poison from circulating with his blood. 
Then more whiskey was poured down him, and he was 
put in bed to await results, while a boy went for the 

i8 7 

neighborhood's doctor, five miles away. After all this 
had been done, and while the stricken man's wife and 
small children were crying at his bedside, the other 
man bethought him of the snake and of the propriety 
of going back to the crib and killing it ; for a copper- 
head was never let escape in those days, if it was pos- 
sible to destroy it. So, well armed with an iron poker, 
he hastened to do his work of vengeance. When he 
arrived at the crib, he most cautiously tilted the barrel 
to one side and struck with all his might. The poker 
did not fail ; but it killed, instead of a hideous copper- 
head, an old setting hen whose nest was under the 
barrel. It was she that had pecked the man's hand, 
and caused all the terrible fright. Upon being in- 
formed of the true state of the matter, the good wife 
ceased crying over her husband and began scolding 
about the death of her hen. 

And speaking of hens recalls the serious trouble that 
our great-grandfathers had in the matter of raising 
poultry. Wolves, foxes, raccoons, opossums, minks, 
weasels, and chicken snakes, not to mention owls and 
hawks, continually preyed upon their domestic fowls 
by day and by night. When wild game began to be 
scarce, a large part of a family's table comforts was 
supplied from the poultry yard. Chickens and eggs, 
turkeys, geese, and ducks were, indeed, the pride of a 
thrifty housewife. But at almost any hour of the day 
a hawk was pouncing down, or a weasel was throttling 
a hen. And the darker and stormier the night, the 
more certain was the visit of one or another of the 
nocturnal vermin. When a chicken squalled, the man 


of the house had to spring from slumber and from bed 
and rush forth to defend his wife's feathered flocks. 
The rain might be falling in floods, or the wind might 
be blowing zero cold from the northwest ; but out he 
must go barefoot and coatless to see what was invading 
the roost or the henhouse. Really it was not funny ; 
but they made much fun of it. They had a saying, 
"As regular as a 'possum on a stormy night." Another 
was, "Sure as a hawk while you're eating dinner." 
The latter referred to the fact that a hawk would hang 
around the edge of a neighboring wood until the family 
sat down to dinner ; then he would strike a chicken. 
"Fat as an owl at the full of the moon" had its origin in 
the havoc made by that dismal hooter during moonlight 
nights. "Wasteful as a weasel" was an alliteration 
founded upon the wanton destructiveness of the weasel, 
which would sometimes kill twenty chickens in a single 
day or night and eat not one of them. 

The wolves killed the sheep, the foxes killed the 
lambs and pigs, now and then a lynx helped in the 
work of destruction ; the squirrels and raccoons ate 
the green ears of corn ; even the turtles in the ponds 
and streams were expert at catching young geese 
and ducks. And yet the early settlers of Indiana, de- 
spite Indians and ague and milk-sick and snakes and 
reptiles and vermin, were happy. They were a brave- 
hearted, hopeful, hospitable people. 


MERE incidents are often the most effective parts 
of a people's history; they are the free-hand 
strokes by which civilization unconsciously, and, as it 
were, accidentally, registers its true values. The humor 
of a time indicates the temper and the spiritual con- 
dition of the people of that time, more certainly, per- 
haps, than the large and grave manifestations usually 
taken as the historical measure. It will generally be 
found that the amusing, and at first sight trivial, anec- 
dotes and stories of small happenings connected with 
the growth of a country are racy of the soil and charac- 
teristic of that elementary strain peculiar to the pre- 
vailing human mood. Young people especially will 
feel the force of simple, involuntary, perfectly natural 
exhibitions of character made upon the impulse of the 
moment by persons comparatively unsophisticated and 
yet surprisingly brilliant, or subtly cunning. 

The following anecdotes of Indiana life have been 
selected with a view to giving a broad general impres- 
sion of the frivolous and humorous sides of experience 
and action. Through them we hope to take the lighter 
spirit of the past unaware and thereby surprise its 
guard and capture some of its innermost secrets and 
deepest traits. 



A great writer has suggested that " a rose by any 
other name would smell as sweet"; but how the rose 
came by its name is quite another thing. The thriving 
and beautiful city of Logansport on the Wabash might 
have been just as beautiful and thrifty had it been 
called by some name less distinguished. But certainly 
its christening was singular. At the time when the 
town seat was surveyed, a discussion arose, several gen- 
tlemen interested urging names, each giving conclusive 
reasons for the adoption of his particular choice. The 
quarrel was a very amicable one, heated as the partici- 
pants became, and finally some bystander proposed that 
it be settled by shooting at a mark with rifles. After 
some further wrangling, all agreed that each man should 
fire seven shots to be counted for his chosen name, and 
the one having the four best hits out of seven was to 
be winner and have the right to name the future city. 

The Wabash River was then thought to be navigable, 
and of course the projectors of the new town were 
dreaming of the day soon to arrive, when steamboats 
should puff up gayly to the wharf they w T ere going to 
build at a convenient place on the bank. This sug- 
gested to Mr. Hugh B. McKeen that the town should 
have " port " in its name. Colonel John B. Duret 
agreed to the suggestion ; but no one else save Mr. 
McKeen particularly liked the name " Logansport," 
which he at last proposed, the " Logan " part of it 
being in commemoration of the bravery and faithful- 
ness to the white people of Tecumseh's nephew, Cap- 
tain Logan, who died heroically in 18 12. 

The target was fixed, and the shooting to settle the 


question was begun. We are not told what names 
besides Logansport were in the stake of the match ; 
but after the seven shots had been fired by each man, 
it was found that Colonel Duret had won the right to 
have his choice accepted. 

So it was that one of the most enterprising towns in 
Indiana got its name in the year 1828. We may regard 

an incident 
like this as 
not in the least 
important ; but yet, for 
aught we know to the 
contrary, if Colonel Duret 
had made a poor shot, Logans- 
port might have been Kalamazoo ! 

Turning from target shooting to settle a dispute, we 
may note another equally novel method of testing a 
question about which we have heard a great deal of 
speculation. Do the spirits of dead people ever return 
to earth ? If they return, do they ever appear visibly 
or speak audibly to the living ? Perhaps we need not 
trouble our minds to investigate ; but when three dis- 
tinguished men of Indiana undertake to make a prac- 
tical demonstration of what is provable in the matter, 


we may well have a reasonable curiosity to see the 
result of their experiment. 

Judge John R. Porter, Josephus Collett, and Senator 
Edward A. Hannegan, as we are told by that charming 
biographer, Mr. William W. Woollen, " entered into a 
compact that the one who first died should return to his 
friends, if it were possible, and give them words or 
tokens of what was going on in the other world." The 
three men were friends almost inseparable, delightful 
talkers, largely gifted intellectually, and each was the 
soul of truthfulness and honor, whatever human faults 
they may have had. When they could arrange their 
affairs so that a few days could be given to unconnned 
joy, they would meet at Collett's house for such a " feast 
of reason and flow of soul " as only men of lofty genius 
and sunny temper can evoke. 

Upon every such occasion " they would clasp hands 
and renew the covenant" that the first to die should 
hasten back to his living comrades with tidings from 
the great Hidden Land. Judge Porter died, leaving 
Hannegan and Collett inconsolable. Would his spirit 
come back, as he had promised it should ? Hannegan, 
although a man of magnificent oratorical powers, was 
curiously superstitious. He would begin no journey on 
Friday, he would not pay a debt on Monday, and he 
firmly believed that Judge Porter's spirit could and 
would return and make itself known. Therefore, not 
long after the judge's death, " Mr. Hannegan wrote 
Mr.. Collett a note," continues Mr. Woollen, "stating 
that he would be with him the next Wednesday even- 
ing. He came at the time, and was received by 


Mr. Collett with all his wonted cordiality. But he 
was nervous and ill at ease. After supper the two 
friends conversed until bedtime without either of them 
naming Judge Porter. When the time for retiring 
arrived, Mr. Collett announced it, and proposed con- 
ducting Mr. Hannegan to his room, whereupon Han- 
negan sprang to his feet, and in an excited manner 
said, ' Joe Collett, has John Porter been back to you ? ' 
'No, Mr. Hannegan,' replied Mr. Collett; 'has he 
appeared to you ? ' ' No ; and now I know there is 
no coming back after death. John Porter never broke 
his word.' " 

Nor did Collett ever see or hear Hannegan, who died 
next. And now Collett has joined his friends in the 
silent country. 

Judge Charles Dewey was one of the strongest men 
ever honored with the exalted office of supreme judge. 
His mind had the celerity and accuracy of lightning. 
Professor John L. Campbell of Wabash College, himself 
one of the brightest men in Indiana, tells the follow- 
ing good story, illustrating the quick wit and admirable 
humor of both Judge Dewey and Senator Henry S. 
Lane, which is also taken from Mr. Woollen's valuable 
book, "Biographical and Historical Sketches of Early 
Indiana" : — 

" On a certain occasion there were assembled a pleas- 
ant party in the parlor of the Washington House, In- 
dianapolis, who were enjoying especially the joke of 
Dewey's menagerie, as they facetiously termed the 
traveling concern which happened at the time to be 
exhibiting at Indianapolis, and was located on some 

STO. OF IND. — 13 


vacant lots on Washington Street belonging to Judge 
Dewey, when a young man of somewhat diminutive 
stature and pompous manner approached the judge 
with a 'Well, Judge, I think I shall patronize your 
menagerie to-night.' 'Glad to hear it,' replied Dewey, 
' glad to hear it. Our pony has just arrived and our 
monkey is sick ; we shall need you ! ' Gifted as he was 
in this quickness of repartee, he enjoyed equally well a 
sally of wit, even though he himself were the subject. 
On another occasion at the same hotel, in a company 
of lawyers, John L of Madison, with a little unwar- 
ranted liberty, remarked, in reference to the long nose 
and chin of Judge Dewey, that they would probably 
meet soon. The judge replied, somewhat bitterly, that 
they never had met yet; whereupon Henry S. Lane, 
with ready wit, added, ' Yet a good many hard words 
have passed between them ! ' " 

Hon. B. W. Hanna told a good story of Henry S. 
Lane and James Wilson, who were opposing attor- 
neys in a case of some importance at Covington, in 
Fountain County. Wilson had the opening speech, in 
which he criticised Lane's method of conducting the 
trial. Just before sitting down he said to the jury, 
" Gentlemen, my main argument in this case will come 
in my concluding speech in reply to Colonel Lane ; so 
right here I shall close my opening." Lane sprang 
to his feet like an upward flash. " That opening of 
Mr. Wilson's," he said, "has long been a source of con- 
cern to me. For some time I have been expecting his 
ears to fall into it and get chewed off. I am glad that 
Mr. Wilson has closed his opening." 


Governor James Brown Ray was, perhaps, the most 
eccentric man ever elected to the highest office in 
Indiana. He was very vain and fond of impressing 
everybody with a sense of his distinguished abilities 
and exalted official position. It was his habit to regis- 
ter his name in public places "J. Brown Ray, Governor 
of Indiana," as if he were signing an official document. 
Whenever it was possible, he made a spectacular exhi- 
bition of himself before the people. In both dress and 
manner he sought to attract wondering attention. On 
one occasion he took advantage of the scene of a public 
execution of three murderers to make a melodramatic 

It was in 1825. Three white men had been con- 
demned to death by hanging for the crime of killing 
some inoffensive Indians. The execution was to be at 
Pendleton. The prisoners were a father and son and 
the father's brother-in-law. The son, a mere youth, 
had aroused the sympathy of the people, and an appeal 
to Governor Ray for clemency had been signed by a 
great many. On the day set for the execution the two 
older men were hanged, while the boy sat by on his 
coffin, awaiting his turn at the rope's end. A vast 
crowd was present to witness the terrible stroke of 
justice. The murder had been a most revolting one, 
in which men, women, and children had shared alike. 
But when the poor, trembling boy stood upon the scaf- 
fold, wildly and pathetically gazing around, everybody 
felt sorry for him, and hoped that Governor Ray would 
pardon him. Time passed, yet no word came from the 
executive, and the drop was about ready, when a wild 


shout went up from the multitude. Then all eyes saw 
Governor J. Brown Ray galloping majestically along 
in the direction of the gallows. He was mounted upon 
a superb horse splendidly caparisoned, and was himself 
dressed in the finest attire. His face wore a look of 
supreme self-importance. While the crowd gazed, he 

rode majestically to where the half-crazed young cul- 
prit stood, sprang from his saddle, and mounted the 

" Young man," he said in a loud voice, " do you know 
who now stands before you ? " 

"No, sir," answered the trembling boy. 

"Well, sir, it is time that you should know," contin- 
ued the governor, drawing himself up stiffly. " There 
are, sir, but two beings in the great universe who can 
save you from death ; one is the great God of Heaven, 
and the other is James Brown Ray, Governor of Indiana, 


who now stands before you. Here is your pardon. Go, 
sir, and sin no more ! " 

It is perfectly safe to say that a governor of Indiana 
who should nowadays grant a pardon with a display 
like that would be looked upon as crazy. Seven dec- 
ades have made a wonderful change, not greater, how- 
ever, in the matter of granting pardons than in the 
system of adjudication in criminal cases. A man by 
the name of John H. Long was indicted for horse 
stealing. This was some time before Indiana became 
a State, and the penalty for Long's crime was whipping 
— thirty-nine lashes on the bare back. A cousin of 
General George Rogers Clark was the trial judge. He 
was a rough, stern man, illiterate, but possessed of a 
strong sense of practical justice. 

When the case came on for trial, Long had very able 
lawyers employed to defend him, while the public prose- 
cutor was a young man of but slight legal acumen, who 
knew next to nothing of technical pleading and the 
short turns of sharp practice. A plea in abatement 
was first filed on the ground that the " H." had been 
left out of the prisoner's name in the indictment. But 
Judge Clark promptly stated that he knew the man on 
trial, therefore his name made no difference. Attorneys 
for the defense then moved to quash the indictment, for 
the reason that no value whatever was alleged, where- 
fore, the horse being worth nothing, no theft could be 
committed in taking it. The judge stated that to his 
judicial knowledge the horse was worth ten dollars, and 
he ordered the trial to proceed. The proof was clear 
and undisputed that Long had stolen the horse. In a 


few minutes the jury found him guilty, and the pen- 
alty of thirty-nine lashes was adjudged. Then came 
a motion in arrest of judgment for the reason that the 
indictment did not allege that the horse was stolen in 
the Territory of Indiana. Judge Clark was taken aback. 
He did not see how he could assume jurisdiction in a 
case not specifically within the territorial limits. But 
he could not bear the thought of letting the horse thief 
go upon a legal technicality when he knew him to be 

"Adjourn court, Mr. Sheriff," he said. "I will take 
this motion under advisement until the sitting of court 
to-morrow morning." 

The lawyers for the defense were elated, feeling sure 
of having their plea sustained. But Judge Clark had a 
scheme of his own. He called the sheriff to him and 
said, — " To-night at just twelve o'clock you and your 
deputy take Long to the woods and give him thirty-nine 
lashes on his bare back. Lay them on as hard as ever 
you can, and then bring him back to jail. Tell nobody 
what you've done; it's to be a court secret." The 
sheriff obeyed to the letter, giving the prisoner a most 
memorable thrashing. 

On the following morning, when the court opened, 
counsel for the defense were ready to hear the decision. 
Long sat in the prisoner's seat, looking strangely uneasy 
and forlorn. His lawyers, all unconscious of the condi- 
tion of his back, smiled and exchanged glances of satis- 
faction. " Gentlemen," said the court, " I have con- 
sidered your plea, and I feel compelled to grant your 
prisoner a new trial." 


" No, no ! " cried Long, leaping to his feet, " I don't 
want any more trials. One's enough. The sheriff took 
me out last night and whipped me nearly to death. Let 
my lawyers go. I discharge them and their plea, too! " 

Judge Clark smiled grimly, and ordered that the 
prisoner be released and judgment marked satisfied. 

When Governor James Whitcomb of our State was 
practicing law, he was a trifle ahead of local civilization 
in the matter of underwear. He put on a clean white 
shirt every morning. Moreover, he indulged in the 
luxury of a nightshirt, a thing to which ordinary 
Hoosiers did not take kindly in those days. Once upon 
a time, in company with some fellow-lawyers, he staid 
for a while at a tavern kept by one Captain Berry, 
who was inordinately proud of his place and boastful 
of its extraordinary cleanliness and comfort. Whitcomb 
was a good fellow, but, being the dandy of the party, 
was made the object of sly jokes and humorous tricks. 
Calvin Fletcher was one of the company, and it came 
into his mind to cause a ludicrous scene between Whit- 
comb and the conceited landlord. So he went to the 
latter privately and said, — " Landlord, I'm a great 
friend of yours, and I don't like to have evil imputa- 
tions cast upon your house, even by another dear friend 
of mine. Do you know what Whitcomb has said about 
your beds ? " 

" No," said the landlord. " What was it ? " 

" Give me your word of honor that you'll never say 
who told you." 

" I promise," said the landlord. 

"He said," whispered Fletcher, "that your sheets 


were so dirty that he always put on a dirty shirt to sleep 
in. He carries a dirty shirt for that purpose." 
" Did he say that ? " 

" You watch him go to bed to-night ; that will settle 
the question." 

" I'll do it, the curly-headed dandy ! " 
When bedtime came that evening, the landlord was 
secretly spying upon Whitcomb, who, quite unaware of 
impending tragedy, proceeded to take off his dress shirt 
and put on his nightshirt. With a howl of rage the 
landlord rushed upon him, dashed him across the bed, 
and was administering punishment unlimited when the 
other lawyers came to the rescue just in time to prevent 
serious consequences. 

Another anecdote of Whitcomb will serve to give the 
reader an impression of the rapidity with which we have 
■ moved during the past fifty years. 
Hon. Oliver H. Smith, from 
whose book, " Early Indiana 
Trials and Sketches," 
we have already 
taken some good 
things, describes a 
musical incident of 
a trip which he and 
Whitcomb made to- 
gether. They stopped 
to pass the night at a 
country house, a lonely 
cabin in the midst of a forest near where Knightstown 
now stands. Whitcomb was an accomplished fiddler, 


and his quick ear caught the sound of doleful, rasping 
music before they had reached the cabin. Upon enter- 
ing, they saw a crippled fellow playing upon an old 
violin, out of which he was drawing ear-splitting dis- 
cords. The lame fiddler laid his instrument on the bed 
and went forth to care for the guests' horses. Whit- 
comb took it up, and after tuning it began playing a 
light and tender air. When the lame man reentered 
the cabin, he was caught in the spell of the music. He 
dropped into a chair open-mouthed, listening as one 
who feared to breathe lest a breath might dissipate his 
happiness. " Whitcomb struck up ' Hail Columbia,' " 
says Smith. " He [the lame man] sprang to his feet. 
'If I had fifty dollars [he cried], I would give it all 
for that fiddle ; I never heard such music before in my 
life ! ' After playing several tunes Mr. Whitcomb laid 
the instrument on the bed. Amos [the cripple] seized 
it, carried it to the fire, where he could see it, turned it 
over and over, examined every part, and sang out : 
1 Mister, I never saw two fiddles so much alike as 
yours and mine ! ' " 

Colonel Samuel C. Willson, of Crawfordsville, was 
one of the strongest lawyers in Indiana during the 
period when attorneys " rode the circuits," and met at 
various country taverns at night to " crack jokes" and 
play a friendly game of seven-up for the mere " fun of 
the thing," betting not often being indulged in. He was 
a large, gruff man, very overbearing in outward manner, 
yet extremely kind and generous at heart. No truer 
friend ever lived, no better citizen ever died than Samuel 
C. Willson; but not unfrequently his apparently surly 


temper was misunderstood by strangers, who resented 
being addressed in a voice indicative of absolute self- 

In his early manhood Colonel Willson was called to 
a town in Illinois on legal business. It was very cold 
weather, and when he arrived at the only tavern in the 
place, he found a company of strange lawyers forming 
a circle around a stove in the office. None of them 
appeared to notice his entrance ; certainly no room was 
offered him by the fire. 

"Well, well," he bellowed in his heavy, gruff voice, 
" you're a beautiful set of fellows — a handsome lot, for 
Illinois ! " As he spoke, he shook great clouds of snow 
from his shaggy overcoat, and stamped large accumula- 
tions from his boots and leggings. A gaunt, bony man 
of immense stature slowly lifted himself from one of 

w€ : ' f^flriw't m 

..-Jfcfe'Y- I \ \ -<\^k 


H wti&ml m 1 ml 




the chairs. Colonel Willson was six feet tall, but this 
man towered far above him. " Stranger," he said to 
Willson, "we were discussing our looks just as you 
entered, and we had agreed that if an uglier man than 
I came in here to-night we'd murder him on the spot. 
Landlord," he called in a louder voice, "fetch here 
your meat ax; the monster has arrived!" A roar of 
laughter greeted this speech, and a few minutes later 
Colonel Willson was delightedly listening to stories by 
Abraham Lincoln, the tall man of the company. 

To pass from lawyers to schoolboys of the early days, 
a curious custom was that which required the ducking, 
in the nearest water, of the person who, passing by a 
schoolhouse, should call out "school butter." If the 
phrase had any meaning, it has been lost ; but " school 
butter" was not to be spoken within hearing of a well- 
regulated school. Everybody knew this, and every 
reasonably prudent person governed himself accord- 
ingly. Still there was now and then a fellow reckless 
enough to take the risk, yell defiantly, bawl out " school 
butter ! school butter ! " at the top of his voice, and then 
run away as fast as his legs could carry him. 

One day the boys in a schoolhouse heard that scorn- 
ful challenge. A man had ridden up to the front gate 
of the yard surrounding the schoolhouse, and after 
shouting something in an excited voice was heard to say 
the two unforgivable words. Instantly every boy in the 
room bolted out to capture the offender. And they did 
capture him before he fairly comprehended what they 
were doing. Immediately, in a very excited way, he 
began to splutter and stutter, trying in vain to make 


some sort of excuses or explanations ; but the boys 
would not listen to his incoherences ; they hustled him 
down to Whitewater River, which ran close by, and gave 
him a thorough ducking. 

The man turned out to be a preacher, and quite inno- 
cent of having offered an insult to the school. Riding 
along the country road, on his way to Connersville, he 
saw a fine cow which had fallen into a gutter beside a 
corduroy bridge. When he came to the schoolhouse, 
he called out, " Somebody's cow has fallen off the 
bridge back yonder and is lying on her back in the 
gutter." The boys heard only the word "gutter" and 
mistook it for "butter." Hence the ducking. He was 
a Baptist preacher, however, and the water, cold as it 
was, felt very familiar to him, and no harm came of 
it. But he never again called upon a school for help to 
get a cow out of a gutter. 

John Ryman was a good lawyer, well known in the 
eastern and southern parts of Indiana. He was a grave 
and dignified man, who rarely showed passion of any 
sort ; but sometimes his anger got the better of him, 
and then he was apt to be a trifle violent. He once, in 
the beginning of his practice, had a case to try before 
a country justice of the peace in an old blacksmith 
shop. His legal antagonist was John Burk, a petti- 
fogger, who was a great wag. Ryman had the right 
side of the case. Both the law and the evidence were 
strong in his favor ; he felt very sure of a verdict. Burk 
understood the situation, and well knew that he must 
use some extraordinary means in order to turn the jury 
against his opponent. 


Ryman had ridden a restive horse, which he had 
hitched to a tree near the blacksmith shop, and every 
few minutes he asked leave of the justice to step 
out and see if his horse was all right. Burk had the 
concluding speech. " Gentlemen of the jury," said he, 
" counsel on the other side has been willfully and scan- 
dalously misleading you and the court." 

" How, sir?" demanded Ryman, in a gruff and belli- 
cose voice. 

" I'll tell you how," Burk continued. " Gentlemen of 
the jury, Mr. Ryman has been asking leave of this 
court every five minutes to go out of this house on the 
excuse that he wanted to look after his horse. But, 
gentlemen, Mr. Ry man's horse is just as gentle as a 
nine-year-old cow. What he's been going out to see 
has not been a horse, gentlemen, but it has been a 
bottle ! " 

Ryman sprang excitedly to his feet. 

"If you accuse me of drinking whiskey — " he be- 
gan ; but Burk interrupted him with — 

" No, sir, I never hinted whiskey ; I admit that you 
don't drink it." Then he turned to the jury and said, — 

" Gentlemen, Mr. Ryman is a perfectly temperate 
man, so far as whiskey is concerned ; but, gentlemen, 
he is badly addicted to tincture of lobelia." 

It may be well to explain that, in the days of steam 
doctors, tincture of lobelia was the standard emetic, and 
when taken it caused the patient to have what the doc- 
tors called " alarming symptoms." The face turned 
ghastly pale, the eyes stared, the features were rigid, 
and a cold sweat stood in beads on brow and cheeks. 


Everybody was familiar with " alarming symptoms," 
and knew that they were not in the least dangerous, 
no matter how frightful they looked. 

" Yes, gentlemen," roared Burk, " he's a slave to 
tincture of lobelia, and has to take a big drink of it 
every few minutes." 

By this time the jury were laughing immoderately. 
Ryman, exasperated beyond self-control, snatched up a 
hammer lying beside the smith's anvil, and sprang to 
strike Burk ; but three or four men seized him. Burk 
ran out of the house, and a moment later thrust his 
head in through a little window hole. 

"Just hold him a minute or so, fellows," he cried; 
" he'll be over it pretty soon. Lobelia often causes 
these alarming symptoms ! " 

Of course the verdict was against Ryman's client. 
Years afterwards, when the great lawyer's fame had 
reached its zenith, the story was told for the first time 
in Lawrenceburg, where he was a leading citizen ; and 
even then Ryman felt the joke too keenly to relish its 
flavor. He was a dignified, earnest, thoughtful man, 
little given to frivolities, and as a lawyer he carried the 
weight of great learning; but what could dignity and 
legal profundity do against the buffoonery of a man 
like Burk before a jury of backwoodsmen ? Well did 
many a good lawyer know in those days how it felt to 
be laughed out of court. 

Turning from court scenes to political anecdotes, we 
may have our smile at the pleasant simplicity of men 
who held high office when the country was new. Oliver 
H. Smith, a distinguished lawyer, was elected to repre- 



sent Indiana in the United States Senate in 1836. Be- 
sides being a lawyer, Mr. Smith owned and operated 
large farming estates on the White- 
water River. No sooner had the 
Legislature elected him to the 
Senate than he went directly 
home and set out thence with a 
drove of five hundred hogs bound 
for the market at Cincinnati. It 
would be worth going far to see a 
senator nowadays trudging ^ 
along a muddy road driving -^J- 
his hogs fifty or sixty miles 
"to sell them. In his own ac- 
count of the incident, Mr. 
Smith says, — " Late in the evening I 
reached Henrie's Mansion House [an ^lMMi$ f$k. 

inn] in Cincinnati, covered with mud. 

There were many inquiries about the 

result of our senatorial election. 

'Which is elected, Hendricks or 

Noble ? ' [they demanded]. ' Neither, 

[said Smith]. 'Who then can it be? 

'I am elected.' 'You! what is your name?' 'Oliver 

H. Smith.' 'You elected a United States senator! I 

never heard of you before.' 'Very likely.' The next 

day I sold my hogs to Graham & Shultz for seven 

dollars per hundred [pounds], received over seven 

thousand dollars cash, and two days after was at home 

with my family." 


GOVERNOR JENNINGS, in the very beginning 
of Indiana's career as a State, foresaw that the 
greatest drawback to material progress was the lack of 
good public roads and other channels for the free and 
easy circulation of the people and for the transportation 
of their industrial products. From the first our State 
was dedicated to agriculture, and to this day her chief 
source of wealth is in her incomparably rich and pro- 
ductive farm lands. But remunerative agriculture is 
almost entirely dependent upon a system of good high- 
ways by which paying markets may be reached at the 
minimum of expense and labor. For what is corn, or 
wheat, or pork, or beef to bring in money if the cost 
of taking it to market equals or exceeds the price re- 
ceived for it ? 

Money was very scarce in Indiana, and Governor 
Jennings knew that the scarcity was largely due to the 
fact that for half the year the roads were practically 
impassable, and that there were no other channels of 
transportation for a large part of the people's farm 
products. Therefore, in his message to the Legislature, 
submitted in 1818, two years after the formation of the 
State, he said, — " The internal improvement of the State 



forms a subject of the greatest importance, and deserves 
the most serious attention. Roads and canals are calcu- 
lated to afford facilities to the commercial transactions 
connected with the exports and imports of the country, 
by lessening the expenses and time attendant, as well 
on the transportation of the bulky articles which com- 
pose our exports as on the importation of articles the 
growth and manufacture of foreign countries, which 
luxury and habit have rendered too common and almost 
indispensable to our consumption." 

" Luxury " may sound rather strange as descriptive 
of pioneer Hoosier life ; but the governor used it advis- 
edly. Coffee, tea, sugar, and tobacco were prime luxu- 
ries in those days. Moreover, not a few people in 
Indiana were even then rich and addicted to the expen- 
sive habits of the Old World. Fine wines, brandies, and 
malt liquors were imported, and silks, satins, broad- 
cloths, and other very expensive goods for women's 
and men's apparel formed a considerable part of trade. 
But the price of farm products was very low, while the 
cost of these luxuries was almost fabulous, regarded 
from our present point of view. For example, a yard 
of silk cost as much as eighty bushels of corn would 
sell for. Calico was exchanged at the rate of one yard 
for eight bushels of corn. Good broadcloth commanded 
one hundred bushels of corn per yard. No wonder the 
women were nearly all spinners and weavers. Under 
a shed beside or behind almost every cabin stood the 
homemade hand loom in which coarse cotton and 
woolen cloths were woven. 

It is next to impossible for us at present to realize 

STO. OF IND. — 14 


conditions so different from our own as those which 
made the building of canals not only desirable, but a 
perfectly proper basis for the rosiest anticipations of 
public prosperity. We hardly know what canal travel 
was like, as we fly across the old deserted ditch and 
towpath in our parlor cars. Many of us have never 
seen a canal boat, or if we have it was an old, rotting 
hulk stranded long ago, and now deep sunken in the 
mud and stagnant water, never again to float. It seems 
almost incredible that sixty years ago the traffic of our 
State crept along in narrow, artificial water ways only as 
fast as a horse could walk on a towpath. 

In 1832 the contract was let for a considerable part 
of the Wabash and Erie Canal, which was, for the 
time, a colossal undertaking. If Lake Erie and the 
Ohio River could be connected by this canal, it was 
thought that the problem of internal navigation would 
be solved. The great port of New Orleans would then 
be accessible to the people of the W T est. It was the 
dream of a golden age about to dawn. Surveys had 
been made showing that the whole scheme was per- 
fectly feasible, so far as physical considerations affected 
it. The old Wabash portage had long before suggested 
that two rivers, one flowing finally to the Gulf of 
Mexico, and the other running in the opposite direc- 
tion into the Lake, could easily be connected by cutting 
a short canal supplied with a lock or two. But the 
rivers were not navigable for their full lengths, nor 
could their banks be easily utilized for towpaths. A 
canal, however, might be dug, and the waters of these 
rivers and of other streams turned in to fill it. The 

proposition was received with great enthusiasm by all 
who were ambitious to see a flood tide of prosperity 
pour over Indiana. 

At that time steamboat navigation on the Ohio and 
the Mississippi was beginning to be enormously profit- 
able, and small steamboats were plying regularly on 
every navigable tributary of those magnificent rivers. 
Canals, instead of competing injuriously with these 
boats, would but swell their business by conveying to 
their wharves a tremendous body of profitable freight. 
Steamboat owners and the controllers of the great river 
traffic could not reasonably complain when they saw 
this giant scheme of internal improvement getting well 
advanced. It was to be one of the feeders through 
which New Orleans became the great mart of the West, 
and the Mississippi River the greatest water highway 
in all the world. 

The flatboat period was coming to a close, and the 
period of canal boats was opening. At first great 
efforts were made to suit steamboats to our small and 
shallow rivers ; but this proved quite impracticable. 
We find in a small book written by a gentleman of 
Lafayette, Mr. Sanford C. Cox, a very amusing and 
lifelike account of the attempts to open steam naviga- 
tion between that city and Peru in 1834-183 5 by way 
of the Wabash. 

At that time Lafayette was looked upon as the head 
of steamboat navigation on our beautiful little river, but 
naturally enough the thriving towns farther up greatly 
coveted both the profit and the honor of that position. 
Delphi, Logansport, and Peru each laid claim to being 


perfectly accessible to light-draught freight and pas- 
senger boats, and offered valuable inducements to the 
enterprising boat master who should demonstrate the 
truth of their claim by bringing a little steamer to their 

In June, 1834, there was a notable rise in the water 
of the Wabash River, caused by heavy rains, and the 
time looked favorable for a trip to those ambitious 
towns. Before that a steamboat had sometimes gone 
as far up as Delphi; but now Peru was the objective 
point aimed at by Captain Towe, with his snug little 
steamboat, the " Republican." A substantial premium 
had been offered by the business men of Logansport to 
the first boatman who should successfully land his 
steamer at the wharf of that town. Considerable in- 
ducements were also held out by Peru ; consequently 
public interest, as well as private ambition, had been 
sharply whetted, so that when the " Republican " puffed 
away from the landing at Lafayette, it had on deck a 
company of jolly excursionists, who had taken passage 
for the mere sake of adventure. The voyage was 
delightful as far as Delphi. Every one on board was 

" But soon after passing the Delphi landing," says 
Mr. Cox, "the boat stuck fast upon a sand bar, which 
detained us for several hours. Another and another 
obstruction were met with every few miles, which were 
overcome with much difficulty, labor, and delay. At 
each successive sand bar, the most of the boat's crew, 
and many of the passengers, got out into the water and 
lifted on the boat, or pulled upon a large rope that was 


extended to the shore — an important auxiliary to steam 
power to propel the vessel over these obstructions. 
Night overtook us stuck fast upon the bottom of the 
river below Tipton's port." 

From that point they set out next morning, after 
having got free from the sand bar, and in the course of 
time reached a rapid just below Logansport. Here the 
pleasant information came that, after passing the ripple, 
which was known as the Georgetown Rapids, they were 
to meet with no more shallow water. Of course all 
hands were delighted. So far they had not been in the 
least depressed by their various little annoyances, and 
now, at the foot of the swift shoals, they felt that one 
more strong pull would end all their trials. 

" Here extraordinary efforts were made," continues 
Mr. Cox, "to ascend the rapids. Colonel Pollard and 
Job B. Eldridge, Esq., of Logansport, who had goods 
on board, and were both laboring in the water and at the 
capstan, were particularly anxious that Captain Towe 
should reach that place, and his boat have the honor 
and advantage of being the first steamer that had 
ascended as high as that point, and receive a bonus of 
several hundred dollars that had been offered as a pre- 
mium to the captain of the first steamer that should 
land at their wharf." 

But the task of climbing against the current of the 
rapids was too much for the " Republican's " little en- 
gine, even when aided by all the strength of crew and 
passengers. " All hands, except the women and a few 
others, w r ere frequently in the water up to their chins 
for hours together, endeavoring to lift the boat off the 


bar." To add to their trouble, the water in the channel 
of the river began to fall rapidly, and every inch of loss 
had the effect of settling the little steamer's keel just 
that much deeper in the soft sand. "While at this 
point," Mr. Cox goes on, " we were visited by several 
companies of well-dressed and fine-looking Miami and 
Pottowattomie Indians of all ages and both sexes, who 
would sit for hours on the bank admiring the boat, which 
they greatly desired to see in motion under a full head 
of steam. After four days and nights of ineffectual 
efforts to proceed, the boat was abandoned by all except 
the captain and part of his crew." 

And there the poor little " Republican " lay for about 
three weeks, unable to move. Finally, a large number 
of oxen having been gathered from all over the country 
and hitched to the boat by a cable, it was dragged up 
the rapids. It reached Logansport on the 4th of July. 
On this voyage it was made clear that steamboats, even 
of very light draught, could reach Logansport only at 
times of very high water, and then not without great 
risk. In June of the next year another steamboat, the 
" Science," went up as far as Peru, the river being un- 
usually high. It was just at the time when a large force 
of Irish laborers were digging the Wabash and Erie 
Canal at that point, and there was a great row between 
them and the boat's people. The latter got the worst 
of it, being glad enough to go back down the river as 
quickly as possible. 

Experiments like the two that we have sketched were 
convincing arguments in favor of the great canal proj- 
ect. They showed how heavy the traffic would be ; 


for one little boat could transport a hundred wagon- 
loads of produce. All that was needed was an easy 
and safe water way. But the building of a public work 
of such dimensions as the Wabash and Erie Canal 
aroused the cupidity of unscrupulous men, who did not 

hesitate to jeopardize the people's interests and credit 
in order to speculate upon the outcome. The conse- 
quence was that most distressing. complications hindered 
the progress of the work, and plunged the whole State 
into financial troubles. In 1838, while Governor Wal- 
lace was in office, Indiana found herself in debt, on 
account of the Wabash and Erie Canal, in the enormous 
sum of one million three hundred and twenty-seven 
thousand dollars. Over two millions additional debt 


existed at the same time, on account of other public 
improvements to be presently noticed. 

Instead of realizing the golden dreams of prosperity, 
wealth, luxury, and commercial activity, the people of 
Indiana in 1840 found themselves bankrupt. Business 
interests had fallen flat ; the public debt rested upon the 
State, a nightmare of financial oppression. Canal boats 
were running, it is true, and railroads had been built, 
not to mention many miles of macadamized roads ; but 
the taxpayers found themselves far worse off than they 
had been before a single stroke had been accomplished 
upon these great works. The State had in hand at that 
time the following public improvements : the Wabash 
and Erie Canal, the Cross-cut Canal at Terre Haute, 
the Whitewater Canal, the Central Canals, the Erie and 
Michigan Canal, the Madison and Indianapolis Rail- 
road, the Indianapolis and Lafayette Turnpike, the 
New Albany and Vincennes Turnpike, the Jeffersonville 
and Crawfordsville Road, and a scheme for the im- 
provement of the Wabash rapids jointly with the State 
of Illinois. The entire State debt in 1841 was over 
eighteen million dollars. In attempting to do well, the 
commonwealth' had done too much and in a most 
unbusinesslike manner. Bonds had been issued and 
sold upon credit, instead of for cash, and money had 
been borrowed to pay interest on the debt ! 

In 1843 James Whitcomb became governor, and 
during his administration a compromise was effected by 
which the public improvements of the State were trans- 
ferred to the State's creditors, thus in a large measure 
relieving the financial pressure and restoring the public 


credit. Almost immediately signs of prosperity be- 
gan to show themselves all over the State. In 1850 
great activity in trade, agriculture, and commerce was 
attended by unprecedented success in public improve- 
ments, which had now passed from the government into 
the hands of private companies, corporations, and indi- 
viduals. Meantime, in 1848, Governor Whitcomb was 
elected to the United States Senate, and in December, 
1849, Governor Joseph A. Wright succeeded him in the 
gubernatorial office, holding it until January, 1857, a 
period of remarkable progress. 

The canal-boat stage of civilization did not last long 
in Indiana ; but while it flourished, the foundations of 
our present splendid prosperity were laid. The new 
State constitution, the school law, and the building of a 
system of railroads all came during that period. Many 
old people now living remember the peculiar expe- 
riences of voyaging on board a canal boat. To young 
folk, however, it would be a very droll way of making a 
journey in this age of rapid transit in palace-car trains. 
From several sources, but chiefly from manuscript notes 
in the possession of the present writer, the following 
sketch of canal-boat voyaging has been made. 

The canal boat was a long, low, narrow structure built 
for carrying both passengers and freight. Its cabin and 
sleeping berths were of the most primitive description, 
ill-ventilated and dimly lighted. The boat looked like 
an elongated floating house, the height of which had 
been decreased by some great pressure. It was drawn 
by one or two horses hitched to a long rope attached to 
the bow of the boat. The horses walked on a path, 


called the towpath, at the side of the canal, and were 
driven by a man or boy, who sometimes rode, some- 
times walked. The boat had a rudder with which a 
pilot kept it in its proper place while it crept along like 
a great lazy turtle on the still water. Surely there 
never was sleepier mode of travel. 

An extract from a private letter written in July, 185 1, 
will give, on the whole, a true impression of what travel 
by canal boat was then like : — 

"We went on board, by way of a board, a gang- 
plank, that is, and soon found ourselves in a dark, 
hole-like room, where it was hard to breathe and 
impossible to see plainly. There was a queer smell ; 
Tom says all canal boats have that odor. Of course, 
this being my first experience, I cannot say how true it 
is. We presently went up a steep little stairway and 
came out upon the top of the boat, which was already 
in motion, — very slow motion, though, — and the dingy 
houses began to slide, so it looked, back to the rear. A 
single horse pulls our vessel, and the loutish boy who 
manages him has hair that is as white as tow. It looks 
as though he had never combed it. He chews tobacco 
and swears at his horse ; but yet he seems good-natured, 
and he sings between oaths some very doleful hymns, 
alternating with love songs of a lively cast. Sometimes 
the horse pokes along ; sometimes the boy makes it trot 
for a short distance. 


" I am sitting on a stool on top of the boat, writing 
with my paper on my knee. The mosquitoes bother 
me some, but they are not very thick, though the ponds 
along both sides of the canal in the flat lands look 
like good places for them to breed in, all covered with 
green scum. The first lock that we went through 
caused me to have a very queer feeling. Our boat 
entered a place where the sides of the canal were 
walled up with logs and plank, and stopped before a 
gate. At the same time a gate was closed astern of us, 
and then the boat began to rise, up, up, as the front 
gate was slowly opened. By this means we were lifted 
to a higher level, upon which we proceeded. But when 
the boat began to rise, I felt as though something dread- 
ful was about to happen." 

In another letter, the same writer, a young lady of 
Louisville, Kentucky, gives a graphic account of her 
first night's experience trying to sleep in a cot or bunk 
in the boat. 

" It seemed," she wrote, "that all of the heat spent 
by the sun during the day had settled down into that 
hot and stuffy little room, and that all the mosquitoes 
ever hatched in the mud puddles of Indiana were con- 
densed into one humming, ravenous swarm right around 
my hard little bed. Tom [her brother] went up into 
the open air on top of the boat and spent the night. 
How I did wish I was a boy ! All night I lay there 
under a smothering mosquito bar and listened to the 
buzzing of the insects, perspiring as I never supposed 
that anybody could. It was awful, horrid ! It seemed 
that daylight was never going to come again. Every 


once in a while I heard men's voices, the boatmen 
talking, probably ; but they sounded strangely. Chick- 
ens sometimes crowed in the distance. About morning 
I fell fast asleep, and did not wake until some shouting 
voices startled me. We had reached a little town where 
the boat had some business, putting off many barrels 
and boxes and sacks, and taking on more. I was glad 
to get up and hurry on my clothes and climb out on 
top of the boat. I saw some queer-looking people. 
Men, women, and children came crowding down to the 
little plank wharf to stand around and gaze. Such 
clothes ! The women looked strangely vacant and ig- 
norant ; but some of the young ones were dressed in 
a way that made them show off. Red calico was most 
conspicuous. They all wore pink sunbonnets. The 
children had apparently never combed their heads or 
washed their noses." 

In a third letter she writes : — 

" It has been a dreadfully hot day, but a good wind 
has been blowing from the northwest, and just now it 
is getting cooler as the sun is going behind clouds in 
the west. We have passed through some lovely coun- 
try, where rich farms, like those in some parts of Ten- 
nessee, stretch away as far as you can look. On our 
left a short distance away the Wabash River has been 
in sight most of the time, and beyond it large fields 
of bottom land waving with luxuriant young corn. On 
our right the farms are more rolling in places, but 
fertile and well kept ; only the houses are miserable 
looking. I have not seen a single homelike farmhouse 
for a hundred miles, it seems to me. 


" You cannot imagine how tedious this way of travel- 
ing is. You creep along like a snail in perfect silence. 
There are two horses to our boat now, but we go slower, 
I think. Our present driver is a little red-headed man, 
not larger than a twelve-year-old Kentucky boy. He 
never curses, but he smokes a pipe all the time. I can 
smell the dirty thing just as strongly as if I were 
walking by his side. He wears no coat and has but 
one suspender, a dingy blue, over his red shirt, slanting 
across his back. He appears to be well acquainted 
with every person that comes along, and always has 
something smart to say. He is dreadfully bow-legged, 
and he steps farther with one foot than the other. 

" To-day is Sunday, and the people all seem to be 
fishing in the canal. We have passed hundreds of them 
sitting on the banks with poles in their hands and 
dangling their fishhooks in the water ; but I have seen 
no fish caught. The boatmen sauce them and they 
retort pretty roughly sometimes. 

" The most disagreeable part of this kind of traveling 
is, next after the sleeping, the eating. You know how 
I like good things to eat. Well, just imagine the dining 
room on one of our river packets, and then turn to my 
canal-boat salle a manger. To get to it from the cabin 
I have to climb up a ladder through a hole to the top 
of the boat, then go down through another hole into a 
suffocating box. The table is horrid, so is the cooking. 
Pork and bread, bread and pork, then some greasy fish, 
mackerel, and bitter coffee lukewarm, three times each 
day. I am raving hungry all the time, and nothing fit 
to eat. It makes me violently angry to see Tom gorge 


like a pig and pretend that stewed beans and catfish 
are delicious. 

"The little towns along by the canal are forlorn- 
looking places ; but they seem to be doing business. 
Tom says that some of the men are getting rich. I do 
not see the evidence of it if they are. Such houses 
as they live in are advertisements of hopeless 'green- 
horn ' existence. Our kitchens are far better than their 
drawing rooms. Tom and I went out into one village 
where the boat remained two hours and a half, and I 
got into the best-looking house in the place by asking 
for a drink of water. Things were worse inside than 
out. There was a bed in one corner of the parlor, and 
no carpet on the floor. Five little dirty children came 
in to gaze at me. They all seemed to be of the same 
age. One fat, big-eyed chap, a boy I think, but they 
were all dressed alike in calico slips, came up close to 
me. I wanted to hug him because he was saucy- 
looking, and I wanted to spank him for not keeping his 
nose clean. I concluded to do neither. 

" For hours to-day we sneaked along on a prairie. 
I think that ' sneaked ' exactly expresses it, for the boat 
acted as though it wanted to creep up to something and 
take it unaware. Tom has been shooting at some big 
cranes flying up out of ponds in the grassy open lands. 
He killed one, but could not get it. It fell in the 
middle of a muddy pond, where it fluttered awhile. 
Why do men and boys like to do such cruel acts ? 

" Last night it rained and thundered terribly. There 
was a leaky place right above my bunk, and some drops 
of water kept up a tattoo, first on the sheet, then in my 


face. It was soon over, and then a delicious cool feel- 
ing came over me, and I slept till long past daylight. 
This morning the air smells ever so sweet. We shall 
soon be in Ohio, but they say that is worse still than 
Indiana. I heard a man speaking about a town of the 
name of Wawpuckenatta, if that is how to spell it. 
What names they do have ! The public roads in many 
places run along close to the towpath of the canal, and 
I see people in wagons. They go faster than we do. 
I am outrageously tired; but Tom is delighted. It 
seems to suit him exactly." 

In one letter there is a striking glimpse of the dis- 
tance passed over by our civilization in less than half a 
century : — 

" Last night just after I had retired we reached a 
village, and pretty soon after the boat stopped I heard 
loud talking and swearing. More and more voices 
joined in, a good many of them unmistakably Hiber- 
nian. Then there were cries and shouts, a gun or pistol 
shot off, then a pandemonium. Before I fairly knew 
what I was about I had put on some of my clothes and 
clambered up to the boat's top. A terrible fight was 
going on at the wharf. There were twenty or thirty 
drunken men, laborers on some public work, and they 
were fighting, the Irish against the Americans. It was 
dreadful. Somehow our captain got into the melee, and 
to-day has his head tied up and his cheek patched. 
They would not let our boat go, but kept us there until 
near two o'clock. Some officers came about eleven, but 
they were driven away with clubs and stones. Tom 
stood by me with his gun ready, but no one came up 


where we were. I never was so terribly frightened. 
How we got away at last I cannot say. The officers 
did not come back, and the men quarreled and swore 
and fought all the time. You may be sure I was glad 

when the boat began to move along. What seemed 
terrible to me was that there were women all mixed up 
in the row, and they swore horribly." 

While canals were being built, and while macadamized 
and gravel roads were in process of construction in 
nearly every part of the State, the idea of roadways 
built of plank became suddenly very popular. Upon a 
hard, smooth surface of wood, the heavy traffic as well 


as the light travel of the people was to rumble gayly 
from town to town. Timber was plentiful and cheap 
then. If we now had the trees that were destroyed in 
those wasteful days, they would make us all rich. In 
his inaugural address in the winter of 1850, Governor 
Wright said : — 

" In the past season we have completed four hundred 
miles of plank road, which have cost from twelve to 
fifteen hundred dollars per mile. There are some 
twelve hundred miles additional surveyed and in prog- 

For a short time these plank roads were delightful to 
drive upon ; but presently the planks began to break, 
the sills to rot, and the earth foundations to sink ; then 
what terrible roads they were ! At first some efforts 
were made to repair them and keep them in good order. 
It was soon felt, however, that they were not practicable 
as permanent highways, and that all the money spent 
upon them after they had reached a certain stage of 
decay was but thrown away. It was foreseen, also, that 
any great extension of the plank-road system would, 
were the roads properly maintained, soon use up all the 
available timber in the State. Public attention was 
therefore diverted from plank roads to highways made 
of gravel. The discovery had been made that the great 
ice period spoken of in our first chapter had left in 
many parts of the State vast deposits of minute bowl- 
ders which formed a practically indestructible material 
for the surface of roads. Many of our hills are com- 
posed chiefly of this gravel, often almost free of sand 
and earth. 

STO. OF IND. — 15 


Companies were chartered all over the "drift area" 
of Indiana to construct and operate toll roads built of 
gravel. This was the true beginning of good roads. 
For some years the companies kept up their graveled 
turnpikes and made them profitable ; but the people 
had learned a lesson and they soon began to build roads 
of their own. Much litigation and ill feeling against 
toll highways led on to a condition which enabled coun- 
ties by their Boards of Commissioners to purchase them 
of the companies and open them to free travel. We 
now have a law under which counties may gravel the 
public highways at the expense of the taxpayers. This 
system of graveled and macadamized roads is the 
greatest public improvement in our State. Not even 
railroads, valuable as they are, can compare in useful- 
ness with the common highways over which our agri- 
cultural products must first pass before they reach th,e 
swifter channels of transportation. 

Another vastly important system of public improve- 
ment in Indiana is the ditching system by which, under 
carefully prepared laws, the wet lands of the State have 
been rapidly drained until at present only a compara- 
tively small part of our soil is untillable on account of 
water. Even the vast Kankakee marshes are being 

In the inaugural address already quoted, Governor 
Wright said, "We have two hundred and twelve miles 
of railroad in successful operation, of which one hun- 
dred and twenty-four were completed the past year. 
There are more than one thousand miles of railway 
surveyed and in a state of progress." From that year, 


1850, onward, railway building continued; and now our 
State is a closely woven network of steel lines over 
which trains rush in every direction, bearing their loads 
of passengers at the rate of almost a mile a minute, 
and their immense tonnage of freight at nearly the same 
speed. No wonder the canals lie idle, dry as dust, or 
filled in places with stagnant water, while the old boats 
rot to pieces ! We have left their period far behind. 
Even the beautiful and commodious steamboat palaces 
have almost disappeared from the great rivers. We 
cannot wait for them. We fly. 

And now comes the bicycle, the real flying machine. 
Everybody is on a wheel and clamoring for still better 
roads. The electric road carriage is not far off. In- 
deed, it is here. What will the future bring ? We need 
not speculate in that direction, however ; for the young 
people of to-day may live to see such improvements as 
will make our railroads, telegraphs, and electric motors 
appear as crude and rudimentary as canals and plank 
roads now look to us. Who would have believed forty 
years ago that in a short time almost every town in our 
State would be lighted with electric lamps, and that 
people hundreds of miles apart would speak audibly to 
one another ? Indiana has exchanged ague and milk- 
sick for robust health ; she has drained her lands, she 
has built fine highways where corduroy roads were once 
thought sufficient ; she has one of the greatest railroad 
centers, the best public schools, and the most energetic 
people in the world. Say " Hoosier " if you like, but 
say it with admiration and pride. 


WHEN Indiana was permanently separated from 
the Northwestern Territory, there was little in 
the condition and surroundings of her people to indi- 
cate the coming of a great commonwealth ; but wise 
men foresaw what lay hidden from ordinary vision. 
While yet every settler's cabin was a fort or block- 
house in miniature, and while from side to side and 
from end to end of the Territory savages roamed at 
will, the thought of schools, colleges, and universities 
was agitating the minds of statesmen and philanthro- 
pists. Education was felt to be one of the corner 
stones of a republican form of government; if the 
people were to be self-governing, then the people must 
be enlightened. 

In the " Ordinance for the government of the Terri- 
tory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio," 
passed by Congress July 13, 1787, the question of edu- 
cation is prominently recognized as one of immediate 
importance to the people. Section 14 of the ordinance 
begins as follows : — 

" It is hereby ordained and declared, by the authority 
aforesaid [the United States in Congress assembled], 
that the following articles shall be considered as articles 



of compact between the original States and the people 
and States in the said territory, and forever remain 
unalterable, unless by common consent." 

The third article thus "ordained and declared" is 
worded, in part, as follows : — 

" Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary 
to good government and the happiness of mankind, 
schools and the means of education shall forever be 

In those days our statesmen felt the high responsi- 
bility of official trust. Rarely has human wisdom been 
used with purity and boldness equal to a demand so 
great. It is probable that no state paper has ever been 
of more importance to mankind than the Ordinance of 
1787, the Magna Charta and the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence excepted. " Religion, morality, and knowl- 
edge " were made the foundation of faith in the future 
of our country, and to protect religion and morality 
from the inroads of vice, knowledge must be increased 
to the greatest extent, and therefore "the means of 
education shall forever be encouraged," said the 

It is certainly true that the life of a backwoodsman 
and his family was not open to many rays of enlighten- 
ment, nor was it likely to induce educational efforts. 
Books formed no part of the necessary equipment for 
the labors of frontier settlers. A few of the more 
intelligent families brought with them from the old 
States some favorite volumes ; but there was probably 
not a collection of books in Indiana before its admission 
into the Union worthy of being called a library. Even 


the priests, preachers, and other professional men were 
but scantily supplied with literary aids to their work. 
Of course there could be no escape from great igno- 
rance under such circumstances. 

But it was for wise statesmen to look far into the 
future and prepare the way for generations of young 
people who, living in better times, could make the most 
of liberal opportunities afforded by the forethought of 
their ancestors. Indiana became a separate Territory 
in 1800, and in 1804 (when Indiana included also what 
is now Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois) the public 
lands in the districts of Kaskaskia, Detroit, and Vin- 
cennes were ordered to be sold by act of Congress. Two 
years later the General Assembly of Indiana Territory 
passed an act, approved by Governor Harrison Novem- 
ber 29, 1806, which incorporated the first public school 
ever constituted within our boundary. It was called the 
"Vincennes University," and its purpose was the in- 
struction of youth in Latin, French, Greek, and English 
languages, mathematics, natural philosophy, logic, rhet- 
oric, and the law of nature and nations. The univer- 
sity was to be free, so far as its funds would permit, 
and no religious creed was ever to be taught in it. 

The word ''lottery" has a strange sound in connec- 
tion with legislative enactment for the benefit of public 
schools in Indiana ; yet' the first institution of learning 
for girls ever authorized by our lawmakers had one of 
those gambling schemes attached to its financial system. 
What should we say to such a proposition now ? 

Vincennes University was opened in 18 10 under the 
presidential management of Samuel Scott, an educator 


of some note, and it continued, with varying fortune, 
until 1825, when by legislative act it was reduced to 
the rank of a county seminary. Prior to this, in 1822, 
the General Assembly of the State had passed an act 
by which a large amount of public lands, set apart for 
the university's benefit, was ordered to be sold and the 
proceeds turned over to the State treasury. This fairly 
made an end of our first college; but in 1838 the Gen- 
eral Assembly set it upon its feet again by reviving the 
original corporation. 

Unfortunately, there arose litigation with regard to 
the lands, or the proceeds of their sale, taken from the 
university in 1822, and at last it was decided by the 
United States Supreme Court that the university was 
entitled to recover about fifty thousand dollars ; but it 
was not until 1853 that the institution once more as- 
sumed the importance of its early years as a monument 
marking the first great step toward a system of public 
schools in Indiana. 

When Congress, in 1804, passed the act ordering the 
sale of the public lands in Indiana, there was a pro- 
viso in the law by which every section of land numbered 
sixteen — that is, the sixteenth section in each town- 
ship — was ordered to be reserved " for the support 
of schools within the same." Thus a square mile of 
land in each township of thirty-six square miles became 
the basis of a permanent school fund. 

Under the constitution of 18 16, the General Assembly 
of Indiana was empowered and required to "provide by 
law for the improvement of such lands as are, or here- 
after may be granted by the United States to this State 


for the use of schools, and to apply any funds which 
may be raised from such lands, or from any other quar- 
ter, to the accomplishment of the grand object to which 
they are or may be intended." And it was further 
made incumbent upon the General Assembly " to pro- 
vide by law for a general system of education." This 
was not adequately done, however, and in 185 1 a new 
constitution was framed and adopted, by which free 
public schools were ordered, the General Assembly 
being required "to provide by law for a general and 
uniform system of common schools, wherein tuition 
shall be without charge and equally open to all." 

Meantime, from the first struggling settlements up to 
the making of this second State constitution, schools 
had been carried on in a most primitive way. Young 
people of the present happy time, who attend public 
school in the comfortably built and well-furnished 
houses scattered thickly over our country, can scarcely 
be made to realize the educational conditions of seventy- 
five years ago. A glance at a schoolhouse of that 
time will be interesting as an object lesson in history, 
although the sketch will not be especially charming. 

The early schoolhouse was built of small, round logs, 
and was barely high enough to lift the lowest part of 
the clapboard roof above the head of a man. It had 
one doorway, with a shutter of slabs, and a huge fire- 
place lined with clay. The squat chimney was but a 
pen of sticks daubed inside and out with mud. In the 
cracks between the logs of the walls were chinkings of 
wood and mortar, and the rude floor was laid with hewn 
puncheons instead of plank. For seats there were 


benches, without backs, arranged in a broken semicircle 
facing the fireplace, where in winter great logs were 
heaped high and kept burning. 

The only light entering the house came through an 
opening made by cutting out a log in one of the walls. 
This aperture was covered with white paper which had 
been dipped in grease to make it transparent. Imme- 
diately underneath the window, a long, slightly slanting 
shelf projected from the wall, and was used as a desk, 
where all of the students in turn practiced writing. 
School was rarely kept in summer, as the children then 
had to work in the fields, dropping corn, pulling weeds, 
hoeing, and the like. In winter, when the snow was 
deep, those who attended school had to walk through 
it, some of them as far as three miles, and, so cold was 
the schoolroom, the snow brought in on their shoes and 
shaken off upon the floor accumulated from day to day, 
until it became a heavy coating of hard ice almost up to 
the very edge of the fire. 

India-rubber overshoes and weather-proof wraps were 
unknown to the hardy children of the backwoods. Cow- 
hide shoes and homespun clothes, often enough worn 
into holes, were the only protection they had from the 
bitter cold and driving rains, snows, and sleets. Not 
unfrequently their ears and toes were frozen ; but they 
were made of strong stuff, and did not seem to mind 
what to us would be unbearable. 

Teachers in those days were not like the trained and 
accomplished gentlemen and ladies whom we now like 
to see at the head of our schools. Many of them could 
barely read and write, and had but a crude smatter- 


ing of arithmetic ; as a rule, however, they were experts 
with the hickory or beech rod. They made up in 
flogging what they lacked in book knowledge. Girls 
and boys of all ages and sizes expected to be whipped 
if they should break the rules laid down by the teacher, 
who rarely smiled in the presence of his school, and 
kept his gads handy. He would flog a boy soundly for 

getting a blot of ink on his spelling book, and a girl 
caught in the act of tickling another's ear with a leaf 
stem had to stand up and receive a merry switching. 
He was generally considered the best teacher who 
whipped oftenest and hardest. 

Not until some time after the middle of the nine- 
teenth century did our schools begin to assume some- 
what the air of true educational sources. Legislation 
was halting, feeble, and ill-considered ; but the General 


Assembly, from session to session, had the problem of 
an efficient school system up for discussion and experi- 
ment. Singular as it may now seem, there was a deep- 
seated popular prejudice against free schools. Pioneer 
life had engendered a spirit of freedom and personal 
independence which scorned every appearance of ac- 
cepting alms, and somehow it got into people's minds 
that a free school was an institution savoring of pauper- 
ism. This prejudice was refractory, and it was fed by 
a certain class of politicians as well as by the almost 
illiterate pedagogues, who feared losing their employ- 
ment under a new system. 

In September, 1833, Caleb Mills came to Indiana 
from Andover Theological Seminary and entered upon 
the professorship of English at Wabash College, Craw- 
fordsville. He had graduated at Dartmouth, and was a 
man of high character and great energy, with a mind 
already busy feeling its way toward the comprehension 
of an adequate system of free public schools. In 1846 
he published in the " Indiana State Journal " of Indi- 
anapolis a communication addressed to the General 
Assembly of the State and signed " One of the People," 
in which he gave his views freely and forcibly. He 
criticised the governor of the State and his predeces- 
sors for ten years past, on account of the meager 
attention paid by them to educational matters in their 
messages and other official acts. Governor James 
Whitcomb was then chief executive, and so cogent 
and so eminently attractive and conclusive were 
Professor Mills's arguments, that the next guber- 
natorial message rang a clear, strong note in favor 


of prompt educational legislation by the General 

Some of the statements made by Professor Mills, in 
his first address as One of the People, will give a pretty 
strong hint of Indiana's condition less than fifty years 
ago ; for matters were little changed until fifteen years 
after he wrote. At that time " Putnam County, contain- 
ing a university, had the sixth of its adults unable to 
read." In Montgomery County, where Wabash College 
stood, every fifth adult could not read. Only a " frac- 
tion over one half of the constituents " of legislative 
members from Jackson, Martin, Clay, and Dubois coun- 
ties could read or write. Surely the pedagogues had 
flogged to small purpose, and a change was sorely 

But still nothing satisfactory was done until after the 
adoption of our new constitution, and even then the mill 
ground slowly for several years. Plenty of self-styled 
statesmen were found who directed their stump ora- 
tory and their legislative influence against the " pauper 
school system." Some of them argued that a man who 
had no children should not be taxed to pay the school 
bills of those who had. Others said that it was degrad- 
ing to permit children to attend school where there 
was no discrimination between social and moral classes, 
while still others insisted that the whole plan of free 
schools was an infringement of freedom and a long step 
toward the assumption by government of all the per- 
sonal rights of individuals ! 

The fight became bitter enough ; nor was it apprecia- 
bly owing, as some writers have rather fancifully argued, 


to antagonism between the New Englanders and the 
Southerners in our population. It was, in fact, a war 
between the new and the old. Freedom had been too 
liberally interpreted to the people by backwoods politi- 
cians, and when it became necessary for the State to 
assert her authority over the citizen, crude minds nat- 
urally resented what looked like a check upon personal 
liberty. Any legislation which had the least appear- 
ance of strengthening the center of governing power 
was condemned as a return step toward the despotism 
against which the whole spirit of Americanism had set 
itself since the signing of the Declaration of Independ- 
ence and the adoption of the national constitution. 
The spirit was right, but the application of it was wrong 
in the case of our school system. New Englanders 
more generally than Southerners sustained the com- 
mon school innovation, because the system had been 
tried in New England and was there found to work well, 
while in the South it was not known. Every argument 
attempting to show that Indiana owes everything good 
to New England and everything bad to the South 
should be scanned and its origin carefully noted. Both 
New Englanders and Southerners have helped to build 
up our great State. Puritan and Cavalier fought side 
by side for freedom, delved side by side in the forests, 
shared alike the hardships of pioneer life, and they 
alike deserve eternal honor. 

But under the constitution of 1816, with the popular 
feeling so strong against admitting that the State gov- 
ernment had the right to control and arbitrarily manage 
the schools, the movement toward free popular educa- 


tion was very exasperating to those who desired to 
retain the old order of things; while, on the other hand, 
the friends of a free school system were impatient at 
legislative delays and the decisions of the courts appar- 
ently adverse to their plans. Professor Caleb Mills 
continued to write a "message" to each General Assem- 
bly, urging action. The friends of education all over 
the State gradually drew closer together in their sup- 
port of the cause. Education itself was fighting for 
more light. Young men trained under the old system 
grew up to feel that great and radical reforms must be 
insisted upon until granted. 

In 1865, about the time that our terrible Civil War 
was closing, the General Assembly of Indiana passed 
a law which went into effect on the 6th of March. It 
is still in force, with certain amendments and additions, 
and is the best common school statute ever given to any 
State or country. Long years of wrangling and experi- 
ment, faithful study of various existing systems, and the 
experience growing out of vexatious litigation seemed 
at last to crystallize the best thought and set it clearly 
in legislative enactment. By this law the school funds 
were separated into two distinct parts, which are to be 
forever kept separate. One is the " Common School 
Fund," the other is the " Congressional Township 
School Fund." Besides these two funds, "the money 
and income derived from licenses for the sale of 
intoxicating liquors, and unclaimed fees, as provided 
by law," are " denominated the ' School Revenue for 
Tuition.'' 1 Various other sources of school revenues 
are established, such as " all moneys arising from 


the sale of estray animals and property taken up 

By the constitution the entire Common School Fund 
is undiminishable, it must be kept forever, and its pro- 
ceeds must be applied " to the support of common 
schools and to no other purpose whatever." 

But it is not the object of this chapter to trace out 
the school laws, or to give a history of public school 
legislation in our State. Our purpose w r ill be better 
served if we can sketch the growth of our people in 
education, and at the same time indicate the influence 
of our common schools upon the civilization of Indiana. 

The name " Hoosier," as applied to a resident of our 
State, was understood and accepted as implying all that 
goes to make up ignorance, uncouthness, and abject 
stupidity. Our people were sufficiently illiterate ; but 
their illiteracy was greatly exaggerated by irresponsible 
travelers and writers. We were no worse off in Indiana 
than they were in Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, and Mis- 
souri ; but our State early became the battle ground, 
and so our educational affairs got into politics, which 
gave them a wide public discussion. In the long run 
this disagreeable notoriety wrought for our good. The 
simple fact that we were considered as very low in the 
scale of enlightenment spurred our people on to extraor- 
dinary efforts in the pursuit of knowledge, refinement, 
and culture. Jibes at us for our illiteracy made us 
examine our school system, and exchange the flogging 
pedagogue for the intelligent, kindly, and sympathetic 

Under the old school system children, as a rule, 


dreaded the time when school should begin. It was 
looked forward to as the opening of a season of tyranny 
and punishment. Many boys, rather than submit to 
the humiliation imposed upon them by teachers, ran 
away, and so began life under the most unfavorable cir- 
cumstances. The acquirement of an education, instead 
of being a pleasing and stimulating experience, was 
made irksome, depressing, and even dreadful. More- 
over, the method of teaching, if it may be called 
a method, was stupefying rather than enlightening. 
Young people were expected to understand the most 
abstruse rules without any helpful analysis or sympa- 
thetic explanation, and the requirement was that the 
student should merge his whole personality in the pot- 
metal manikin set up by the teacher. If the school- 
master spoke, what he said must be taken as correct, 
and woe to the bright young person who dared to 
question it! Originality and independence of thought 
were met with whip and ferrule. 

In 1824 Benjamin Parke, a man of fine mind and 
warm sympathies, began to agitate the question of 
properly qualified teachers for the people's schools. 
Parke was a native of New Jersey. He came to Vin- 
cennes, Indiana, in 1800, when but twenty-three years 
old, was appointed attorney general, and at the age of 
twenty-eight was a delegate in Congress from Indiana 
Territory. In 1808 President Jefferson appointed him 
a territorial judge. He was a member of the constitu- 
tional convention of 18 16, and afterwards a United 
States District Judge, until his death at Salem in 1835. 
While at Vincennes he was active in the cause of educa- 


tion, and the public library established there was mainly 
the result of his labor. When the University of Vin- 
cennes was founded, he was a member of its board of 
trustees. He originated the Indianapolis Law Library, 
and did more than any other person to build up a his- 
torical society in Indiana. 

It is to Benjamin Parke that we owe the first law re- 
quiring teachers in our public schools to undergo an 
examination touching their qualifications for the work. 
It was but a feeble step cautiously made by the General 
Assembly, but it was in the direction of what we now 
have. At first the examiners were themselves often 
enough without knowledge of what a teacher ought to 
know. The examination was a mere form, not having 
even the value of sincerity. Indeed, the chief stum- 
bling block in the path of progress was the impression, 
deep-sunk in the minds of the people, that a school- 
teacher ought to be chosen by the parents of the chil- 
dren who were to be taught by him. This might be 
well enough, were the parents themselves thoroughly 
educated and trained in the best methods of teaching, 
but the business of the educator is a special one requir- 
ing both personal fitness and adequate attainments, 
besides a thorough professional preparation. How 
were ignorant fathers and mothers to know whom to 
choose ? 

Parke's idea, although for a long time but crudely 
applied, kept its place in the minds of enlightened 
friends of education. It rang the death knell of the 
pedagogue, and forespoke the passing of the system of 
flogging education into children by way of their backs, 

STO. OF INDc — 1 6 


instead of communicating it through pleasing associa- 
tions. The principle was to educate the teacher so that 
he could teach. Let enlightened men and women be 
the sources of enlightenment. 

The foundation of our Common School Law is the un- 
expressed theory that children have rights that should 
be beyond the reach of tyranny, and that the State has 
the constitutional power to control to the minutest de- 
tail the treatment of those who enter her free schools. 
The commonwealth is teacher in chief. It says to 
parents : educate your children privately if you wish, 
but if you send them to my school you will submit to my 
methods of teaching them. In my school all children 
are upon equality ; there are no cleavage lines marked 
by wealth, ancestry, social influence, or any other con- 
dition. Here the hod carrier's child may by superior 
achievement stand above the offspring of the million- 
aire. All depends upon the child itself. I am giving 
full swing, in my schools, to the grand principle of free- 
dom and equality eternally fixed in American political 
foundations. My teachers and their scholars meet, not 
as master and slaves, but as friends, come together for 
the high purpose of giving and receiving. The chil- 
dren of my people enter the houses of instruction built 
for them by me, not as aristocrats and plebeians, not 
as patricians and peasants, but all alike simply as 

Benjamin Parke's idea grew slowly but surely until 
it developed into our present system of normal instruc- 
tion and our almost perfect method of examining 
teachers who desire employment in the public schools. 


The State Superintendent, the State Board of Educa- 
tion, the State Normal School, the Teachers' Institute 
and Reading Circle, and the various associations of 
teachers and students for mutual instruction and the 
pleasures of intellectual investigation, are all flowers 
blooming on the plant whose original thought-seed fell 
from a pioneer's brain. And that pioneer was not a 
New Englander, not a Southerner ; he was a Jersey- 
man, who came to Indiana with the love of his country 
and of mankind in his heart. He was an American of 
the best type. 

In June, 1873, a new law governing the administration 
of the schools in each county of the State went into 
effect. By this law a county superintendent was 
placed in charge of school affairs, under the direction 
of the State Board of Education. Since then the effi- 
ciency of our teachers and the character of our schools 
have steadily advanced to a distinction which compelled 
from a specially informed Eastern writer not long ago 
praise scarcely won from him by the school system of 
the oldest States in the Union. 

The roll of honor which should include the names 
of all the famous men in Indiana who have labored for 
the building of our public schools, would be too long 
for these pages ; but a few illustrious names may be 
recorded without the least neglect of the many not 
mentioned. Benjamin Parke, Isaac Blackford, Robert 
Dale Owen, Caleb Mills, Henry Ward Beecher, Ovid 
Butler — men differing from one another as day from 
night, yet in one way or another representative of the 
people and of the fundamental American principle of 


freedom kept alive by progress. At the present time 
there is presumably not a clear-minded man, woman, or 
child in Indiana who does not feel a deep interest and 
take high pride in the great system of education doing 
its almost perfect work through our free common 

To think that eighty years ago there was not more 
than a scarcely appreciable beginning of educational 
interest in Indiana, brings out into powerful prominence 
the achievements of our people. It is by comparing 
the present with the past that we get the true historical 
measure of our growth as a commonwealth ; and the 
school is the best means of comparison. 

A great many anecdotes and reminiscences of the 
old-time school and its teachers have been handed 
down. Two or three of these may close this chapter, 
not with a sneer at the pioneer pedagogue (for he was 
a useful and valuable aid to progress, faulty as he was), 
but with sincere thankfulness to him — for getting out 
of the way when the thoroughly equipped and duly 
examined and licensed teacher asked for his place. 

One teacher who had a school for several winters 
in a log house in the Whitewater valley, not far from 
Brookville, made great pretensions to a knowledge of 
the Latin language, and was in the habit of writing 
"copies" in Latin in the boys' copy books. This inno- 
vation was not to the taste of certain patrons of the 
school, but they felt afraid to attempt anything more 
than private murmuring against a " learned " man who 
could, it was said, read four or five languages. At last, 
however, a Scotch doctor living in the neighborhood 


settled the matter by demanding of the teacher a literal 
English translation of a " copy " in his son's copy book, 
which was the well-known maxim : De mortuis nil nisi 

of the dead." The 
surprise, the ques- 


bojunn, " nothing but good 

pedagogue was taken by 

tion being put to him 

at an apple-peeling _.,_. 

party, or quilting 

bee, or something 

of the sort, when he 

had not his book of 

phrases at hand. He 

tried to evade, but the 

sturdy Scotchman, who 

had been educated in Edin 

burgh, insisted upon an immediate com 

pliance with his demand, and in 

Thus cornered, the poor pedagogue did his best by 

translating the maxim thus : " There is nothing left 

of the dead but bones." 

In a debate held in a schoolhouse not far from 
Logansport, the question up for discussion was this : 
" Which affords man the greater happiness, pursuit 
or possession ? " The neighborhood schoolmaster, who 
w r as president and judge, was to decide every matter of 
difference arising in the argument. A young preacher, 
far better qualified to split rails than to expound the 
Gospel, was making a loud, if not very interesting, 
speech on the side of pursuit. He waxed eloquent. 
"The pursuit of any object, no matter what," he bawled, 
"is far preferable to possessing it." "Hold on, there, 


parson," the pedagogue gravely interrupted. "You're 
going too far. You've got to except two things." 
"What are they? What are they, I'd like to know? " 
cried the preacher. ^ " Religion and education," was 
the schoolmaster's triumphant reply. A long, lank, 
rustic youth arose and said, — "You're right, Mr. Judge. 
For if you're a-pursuing education you're all the time 
afraid of the schoolmaster, and if you're a-pursuing 
religion you're dead sure that the devil's close to your 
heels. But then," and here he scratched his head, 
"but then, judging by what we see before us this even- 
ing, the possession of education makes a mighty mean 
man into a schoolmaster ; and the possession of religion 
makes a natural-born fool think he's a preacher ! " 
After making these points, the audacious youth bolted 
from the house and ran into a neighboring wood to 
escape the pursuit of both parson and pedagogue, who 
were equally intent upon getting possession of his 

A school-teacher in Fayette County spent all his 
spare time during a whole winter trying to reach a 
satisfactory solution of the problem following — "If 
fifty cents equal half a dollar, how much will ten eggs 
come to at twenty cents a dozen if thirty cents equal 
a quarter of a dollar?" 

We have done a great deal since his day, but much 
yet remains to be accomplished before the squaring 
of the circle and the invention of perpetual motion 
will cease to betray the weak spots in our educational 
fortification against ignorance and its votaries. 


WHEN the Southern States withdrew from alle- 
giance to the Union and set up the " Confed- 
erate States of America," the war which followed had 
its seat and its great centers of activity mostly far south 
of the Ohio River, or beyond the mountains in Virginia. 
It was a tremendous struggle, the legitimate result of 
an attempt to perpetuate the unspeakable evil of human 
slavery. Happily, it turned out that the right prevailed, 
the Union was preserved, slavery was forever abolished, 
and unparalleled prosperity followed in a few years, even 
in those Southern States where the ravages of battle 
had been most terrible. Happier than ever before, 
stronger, more closely united, the American people look 
back upon the war as the fiery bridge by which they 
crossed into the promised land of true freedom. 

Indiana was faithful to her national allegiance and to 
every duty connected with it ; but at the time when war 
was being hotly discussed, and while yet a bloodless 
settlement of the partisan and sectional differences 
looked possible, many of her citizens advocated peace, 
and earnestly desired to have every effort made to 
secure it. But the time was not favorable to any dila- 
tory proceedings. The hearts of men had been pro- 
foundly stirred. And when Fort Sumter in South 



Carolina was fired upon, there came a blaze of ungov- 
ernable patriotic rage never before witnessed in the 
world's history. 

Before this, however, local politics in Indiana had 
been urged to the bitterest extreme, and many things 
were said in the heat of partisan argument which could 
be construed and were construed to mean more than 
was intended. But there were some men in Indiana 
who doubtless favored the Southern cause. Others, 
perhaps, would have been glad to see peace maintained 
at any sacrifice. A few were ready to do anything to 
avoid going into the army to fight as soldiers. All 
these opposition elements taken together formed, as 
time proved, but an almost insignificant minority. 
Still, with political excitement running high, with 
stump orators wrangling in every county, with fierce 
debates raging in Congress and the State Legislatures, 
and with the greed for office spurring candidates to use 
every means to secure votes, it is by no means to be 
wondered at that our State was thought to be in a 
doubtful condition as to popular support of extreme 
war measures. That a majority stood enthusiastic for 
the Union could not be questioned ; but how strong 
was the minority ? To what extent would opposition 
go ? Was there really in the State of Indiana a large 
and thoroughly dangerous element ready to sustain 
secession and to strike for it at the first opportunity ? 

As a matter of course, whatever may have been the 
actual facts, there was sure to be unlimited exaggera- 
tion of their extent and nature ; for a political campaign 
is a season of misrepresentation. It appears to be pretty 


well settled that there was in Indiana an organization 
called " Knights of the Golden Circle," which had for 
its object some sort of opposition to prosecuting the 
war for the preservation of the Union. How far its 
purpose went in that direction we do not care to in- 
quire ; but the existence of the society, and the excite- 
ment caused by attempts made to break it up as 
treasonable, gave rise to a widespread belief that a 
very large part of Indiana's population would give 
active aid to the Southern army the moment that an 
opportunity was offered to do it. The rumor went all 
over the country that secretly nurtured treason was 
powerfully organized throughout the State, and espe- 
cially in the southern counties. 

In due time the people of the South were led by 
reports of this state of affairs in Indiana to believe that 
they had but to offer the opportunity of enlistment to 
have a large army raised for the Confederate govern- 
ment north of the Ohio River. Kentucky was divided 
in sentiment, so that she could not be counted upon by 
either of the great contending parties. For a long time 
before the beginning of the war, slavery was losing its 
hold within her borders, and the principle of human 
freedom was gradually advanced in popular favor by 
men who had themselves been slaveholders. The con- 
sequence was that during the first years of the Civil 
War Kentucky felt the agony of a local struggle fierce 
and bloody. 

With a fight to the death going on just across the 
Ohio, and with a sense of uncertainty oppressing her 
people, Indiana was called upon to furnish a large num- 


ber of soldiers for the Union army. Volunteers at first 
were plenty; more offered themselves than could be 
accepted ; but as the war progressed and the battle 
front extended from Missouri to the coast of Virginia, 
the demand for fighting men was so great that a draft 

had to be put in 
asperated many 
the outset stood 



operation. This ex- 
citizens who had from 
firm for the Union 
r cause. Meantime politi- 
cal schemers used every 
new cause of discontent 
as a means of influencing 
In those turbulent days 
* "Copperhead" and "Butternut" were 
names applied at first to persons who 
were supposed to favor, directly or indi- 
rectly, the Southern side of the war ; later they stood for 
all who opposed the administration of Abraham Lincoln, 
no matter on what ground. Oliver P. Morton, a man of 
wonderful executive ability and firmness, was Indiana's 
war governor. With an iron hand he seized the oppor- 
tunity to try to crush the Democratic party in the State. 
By his measurement, whoever differed from him in 
political understanding was a Copperhead and Butter- 
nut ; in other words, a traitor to his country. But 
Governor Morton was just the man for the time and 
the place. With all his faults, he was a patriot firm 
and true. There was no such word as "falter" in his 
vocabulary. He saw that it was necessary to excite 
the war spirit to the highest possible pitch, and to do 


this he did not hesitate to accuse his political opponents 
of downright treason. 

Of course we can easily see how the name ''traitor," 
while it might have fitted individuals, was exasperating 
to a vast body of loyal men who opposed Governor 
Morton's administration for ordinary partisan reasons. 
The great majority of Democrats in Indiana were true 
as steel to the national government, and stood side by 
side with Republicans in the front of battle on all the 
great fields of the war. Men of both the great parties 
were leaders wherever the fight was deadliest. Repub- 
licans and Democrats vied in bravery and valor at every 
charge and upon every forlorn hope. We can look back 
now and see that patriotism was of the people irre- 
spective of party lines. Upon the people, not upon 
any party, our country rests, and by the people it was 
saved in its hour of greatest clanger. 

But the impression in the South was that the political 
froth on the surface of popular campaigning in Indiana 
signified a deep-rooted disloyalty affecting our people 
to the extent that would precipitate revolution at the 
first open opportunity ; and at last the attempt was 
made to test the matter. If there were legions of 
" Southern sympathizers " in Indiana ready to leap to 
arms for the cause of the Confederacy, they should 
now be given a brilliant start upon their longed-for 

It was near midsummer in 1863. The mighty armies 
of the North and the South were facing each other near 
the line of Georgia and Tennessee, with daily expectation 
of a decisive battle. General Braxton Bragg, who com- 


manded the Confederate forces, was preparing to fight 
a great battle in the neighborhood of Chattanooga, 
where General William S. Rosecrans was pressing him 
hard with the Union army. General Bragg felt that to 
lose the battle would end the hopes of the South. Nor 
was he without fear of such a result ; for, while every 
available man had been sent to him, he knew that the 
resources of the North were practically inexhaustible, 
and that General Rosecrans could fall upon him with 
an overwhelming force unless some bold stroke in the 
rear should prevent great reinforcements being sent. 

At that time a young and brilliant Confederate cavalry 
officer, General John Morgan, had won a great name for 
skill in leading his small command upon rapid and dar- 
ing expeditions. He was absolutely fearless, singularly 
original in his movements, and possessed of that highest 
gift of genius in a cavalry leader — lightninglike swift- 
ness of conception and execution. With him to see was 
to comprehend, to resolve was to move, to move was to 
strike just at the moment when he was least expected. 
His very name had become a note of uneasiness ringing 
in the ears of his enemies. 

One day General Bragg sent for General Morgan, 
and, after a long interview, gave him orders to take his 
division of cavalry and operate with it in Kentucky. 
The idea of this movement was originated by Morgan 
himself, who insisted that the raid should be pushed 
across the Ohio into Indiana. General Bragg, how- 
ever, would not extend his order to include that daring 
suggestion ; but Morgan was fully determined to make 
the attempt, orders or no orders. What Bragg wished 


him to do was to cross Kentucky, meantime attacking 
every post in his way, and, if possible, capture Louis- 
ville. The object was to prevent reinforcements being 
sent Rosecrans, and to call away from him all the 
strength possible. Morgan had a larger purpose. He 
had heard of the Copperheads and Butternuts in In- 
diana. If he could cross the Ohio with two or three 
thousand men, might they not rally to him with men 
and arms and swell his little command to an army ? 

Early in July, General Morgan reached the Ohio at 
Brandenburg, Kentucky, and immediately made prepa- 
rations to cross over into Indiana with his command. 
Two or three boats had been captured by his men, and 
these were used to good purpose in making the passage. 
A Federal gunboat appeared, however, before all the 
force had crossed, and opened fire. A battery, stationed 
on the river bank, soon sent it off badly scared if not 
much damaged. Meantime there had been a lively 
fusillade from the Indiana side by a body of troops 
planted there to prevent the crossing. A foolish ven- 
ture on the part of Captain Thomas Hines, of Morgan's 
command, had put the Indiana people on their guard. 

Captain Hines was a restless and daring officer, com- 
manding a company in the Ninth Kentucky cavalry. 
He had been sent upon a scouting excursion by Gen- 
eral Morgan, and thinking it would be fun to set foot 
upon Northern soil, he had crossed with his handful of 
men into Indiana and galloped around at will for a 
while, having his own way until he had gone as far 
as Seymour, where a body of State militia met him and 
drove him back to the river, and he was glad enough 


to get over once more into Kentucky. It was this 
daring piece of adventure that made Morgan's sudden 
appearance less surprising than had been expected by 
that bold commander, and for a while it looked as if 
his forces were going to be cut in two. He had sent 
two regiments to the Indiana side and was working 
hard to follow with the others, when the gunboat 
steamed down the river and began firing. It was an 
ugly beginning for his invasion ; but his battery of 
Parrott guns on the bluff made short work of the inter- 
ference by the gunboat, and then in a short time all 
of his command was moving upon Indiana soil. 

The great battle of Gettysburg had just been fought 
in Pennsylvania, and throughout the whole North there 
was enthusiastic rejoicing over Lee's defeat, which was 
felt to be, as it really was, the beginning of Confeder- 
ate downfall. General Morgan knew that General Lee 
had invaded Pennsylvania with an army of veterans 
numbering about a hundred thousand, the very flower 
of Southern manhood ; but he did not dream that 
already it was cut to pieces, nearly one third of it killed, 
wounded, or captured, and its defeated but still uncon- 
quered remnant marching back to cross the Potomac. 
And so with rocketlike swiftness and brilliancy he 
swept northward from the river, driving the militia 
before him or scattering them in every direction. 

Strange to say, however, the Copperheads and But- 
ternuts were not visible. Where were the thousands 
of Southern sympathizers in Indiana who had been 
standing ready to join the Confederate army? Instead 
of helpers and comrades, the daring invaders found 


everywhere empty houses, and bodies of armed men 
who shot at them to kill. In a word, Indiana was 
loyal. Her men might wrangle and squabble, and call 
one another hard names in the heat of local politics ; 
but when it came to choosing between union and seces- 
sion, they all stood together for the old flag and the 

On the other hand, Morgan had been, perhaps, as 
much misrepresented as the people of Indiana. From 
newspaper accounts and from general rumor, the great 
raider was supposed by the common Northerners to be 
a ruthless and conscienceless murderer and robber who 
would abuse or kill women and children and burn every 
town and every farmhouse that he came to. When the 
news that he had crossed the Ohio began to spread, it 
dashed consternation into the hearts of old and young. 
Families deserted their homes in a panic of flight. 
Every out-of-the-way wood, or thicket, or hollow inac- 
cessible to cavalry, was the hiding place of refugees 
from the towns and villages toward which Morgan was 

The little army of invasion consisted of about twenty- 
four hundred men, fairly well mounted and armed. It 
carried but light supplies of provisions ; for Indiana was 
well known to be a land of plenty, where there would 
be little difficulty in foraging. Vast fields of wheat, 
cribs of yellow corn, pens of pigs, grazing herds of fat 
cattle and sheep, poultry yards full of chickens — every- 
thing that hungry cavalrymen and their equally hungry 
horses could wish for — lay at hand for them wherever 
the roads led. And now began a short period of pop- 


ular excitement, never equaled before or since in the 
history of Indiana. 

General Morgan had with him a shrewd and accom- 
plished telegrapher, named Ellsworth, who not only 

rendered great 
somewhat of a 
a telegraph 

assistance to him, but was 
wag as well. Whenever 
station was reached, 
Ellsworth would take 
possession of the in- 
strument and send mes- 
sages to various points. 
First he would mislead 
the operator at the other 
J' 1 end of the line, by send- 
ing word over the wire to 
the effect that Morgan 
had just entered some 
other neighborhood and 
was going in a certain 
direction, which statement 
of course was just the op- 
posite of the truth ; then he 
would make inquiries regarding 
the distribution and movements of the State and Fed- 
eral troops. By this means he got a great deal of 
valuable information. Sometimes, when he knew that 
it was useless to attempt deception, he sent saucy, 
humorous despatches to various points, with the com- 
pliments of General Morgan. 

But here in Indiana there was not much opportunity 
for fun and joke just then. Morgan quickly compre- 


hended the situation, and felt- that he was indeed in his 
enemies' country. He found no friends and allies ; he 
knew that to accomplish anything worth naming he 
must be swift, tireless, and on the move day and night. 
Any halt for rest, any dallying with circumstances, 
would but give his adversaries time to surround and 
capture his entire command. No sooner had his forces 
crossed the river than his march began, and on the first 
night he camped several miles in the interior on the 
way to the old town of Corydon. Next morning bright 
and early he was again in the saddle, leading his little 
division rapidly through a country all deserted and 
silent. The weather was very warm, and the men had 
not slept much, but the excitement of a raid into the 
" land of Copperheads " was sufficient to make them 

Morgan gave orders to burn railway bridges, destroy 
telegraph lines, and take from the country whatever 
supplies were needed for men and horses ; but he strictly 
forbade the pillaging of houses, stores, and the like. 
His men, however, were not of his mind on the subject; 
they had no very great scruples against laying hands 
upon what was in sight. The officers had too much 
far more important work to do for a matter of calico, 
tobacco, cigars, and candy to receive constant attention 
from them. Almost immediately after the march upon 
Corydon began, the reckless cavaliers set about the 
work of pillage. Houses stood open to them, with not 
an inmate left to protect their contents against undue 
liberties. Pantries were full of cooked food; canned 
fruits shone lusciously through the hermetically sealed 

STO. OF IND. — 17 


glasses ; cold roast chickens lay upon platters ; pies 
stood in stacks ; loaves of light bread gleamed between 
well-scoured shelves ; great cones of solid yellow butter 
and crocks of golden cream were in the cellars and 
spring houses and refrigerators ; smokehouses hung 
full of bacon and hams — and how could a lank cavalry- 
man resist ? Well, there is no evidence that he did 
resist in the least. 

The first serious show of fight on the part of Indiana 
people was when Morgan's advance guard reached 
Corydon. There a considerable number of men had 
formed behind a breastwork of fence rails thrown across 
the highway. It was thought by these brave citizens 
that Morgan's force could be nothing more than a 
handful of guerrilla raiders ; so they stood their ground 
manfully and poured a deadly volley into the front of 
the charging guard, killing and wounding several of 
them ; but when they saw two regiments deploy, one 
to the right, one to the left, and sweep past their flanks, 
while down the road came a column at thundering 
speed, and a battery began to bellow, they took to their 
heels for dear life, — a very sensible thing to do, — and 
ran into town bearing a panic with them. 

Close at their backs charged the raiders, and down 
a street went bounding and bumping some shells from 
the cannon. It is safe to say that Corydon never had 
a livelier experience. The grim dragoons, with their 
blood up, stormed into the main street at a rattling 
gallop. Women and children, accompanied by not a 
few men, hid themselves as best they could. It was 
like a passing tempest and soon over. A few volleys, 


a few shells, a trampling of horses, some yelling, a 
flurry all over town while the cavaliers took what they 
wanted, and then the column moved on toward Salem. 

On the 4th of July the Confederate army under 
General Pemberton, at Vicksburg, Mississippi, surren- 
dered to General Grant. On the 9th of the same 
month Morgan's command passed through Corydon, 
Indiana. On the 3d Lee's army was broken at Gettys- 
burg, Pennsylvania. What distances apart were these 
operations, and what a feeling it gives one to think of 
the condition of our country at that time ! Morgan's 
men could not understand the meaning of the flags 
displayed in front of deserted houses ; but in time they 
found out that the Mississippi River was at last open 


its full length to Federal gunboats, and that the grand, 
and before that invincible, army of Virginia was in full 
retreat. These flags and these ashes of bonfires were 
the evidences of wild rejoicing at the news of Union 
victories. Perhaps the next news would be that Rose- 
crans had crushed Bragg's army, and was pouring 
down through the hills to Atlanta. 

On the ioth Morgan reached Salem, where a band 
of militia was drawn up to oppose him, armed with 
shotguns, muskets, squirrel rifles, and the like. At the 
extreme head of the Confederate column rode Lieuten- 
ant Welch with a picked squad of twelve men. With 
a yell he bore down upon the militia at a full run. 
They scattered as quails scatter when a hawk pounces 
among them. The column closed up and charged into 
the town. Here plundering was begun in spite of or- 
ders to the contrary, as we are told in General Duke's 
entertaining "History of Morgan's Cavalry." "The 
disposition for wholesale plunder," he writes, "exceeded 
anything that any of us had ever seen before." This 
is a frank confession from General Morgan's most 
trusted officer and comrade, who had been with him 
for a long time on his most daring raids. In fact, the 
opulence of the people in Indiana looked like inex- 
haustible luxury to men who had been for months 
subsisting upon the meager leavings of the march- 
ing and countermarching armies in Kentucky and Ten- 
nessee. They felt an enormous greed for everything 
that met their eyes. They could not resist the tempta- 
tion, they must try to carry off some of this abundance 
with which both town and country were loaded. 


General Duke gives a humorous description of how 
the men acted in their unreasoning efforts to satisfy a 
vague desire to steal promiscuously. He says : "Calico 
was the staple article of appropriation — each man who 
could get one, tied a bolt of it to his saddle, only to 
throw it away and get a fresh one at the first oppor- 
tunity. They did not pillage with any sort of method 
or reason — it seemed to be a mania, senseless and 
purposeless." It was ludicrous, as an eyewitness 
described it, to see them riding along, one with a 
long stick of candy between his lips, cigar fashion, 
another cramming his mouth with brown sugar, while 
still another carried on the pommel fi^g*. of his sad- 
dle a keg of beer. A trooper, who T ^ appeared 
to be a good-natured 
wag, had stolen a 
terrier pup and had 
it tied to his crupper. 
Another had a cage 
canary birds swingin 
beside him as he gal- 
loped past in the 
July sunshine. One 
comical fellow had 
stolen a half dozen pairs 
of skates and wore them strung around his neck. But 
the strangest freak of all was that of a trooper who 
carried away from a drug store a pair of apothecary's 
scales ; or was it still more ludicrous when a big Ken- 
tuckian cantered along carrying a huge chafing dish ? 
General Duke says that one of his men rushed past a 


guard placed at the door of a dry-goods establishment 
and greedily filled his pockets with horn buttons. This, 
however, was not in Indiana. 

At Salem Morgan halted for a few hours while de- 
tachments were busy burning bridges on the railroads. 
His men and horses were fed, and then the order was 
given to march. On they went, along the road to 
Vienna, a village which they reached about dark, 
taking the inhabitants quite by surprise, and even 
capturing the telegraph operator at the station before 
he could wire an alarm. Ellsworth went to the in- 
strument and called up Louisville and Indianapolis, 
shrewdly managing to throw the operators at both places 
off their guard, thus gaining from them all the infor- 
mation wanted by Morgan. From Vienna the raiding 
column proceeded to Lexington and there spent the 
night, moving early in the morning to Paris, and on 
toward Vernon. 

In the mean time the State authorities had been 
using every effort to find out just what Morgan was 
doing and where he was probably intending to go. 
The militia could not be concentrated with sufficient 
rapidity to intercept a flying column of cavalry ; and 
when it did offer serious resistance, Morgan simply 
passed around it and continued his march. The na- 
tional authorities bestirred themselves with promptness, 
ordering all the troops available for the purpose to 
move to positions whence they could be directed to best 
effect ; but Morgan was a consummate master of his 
business. He eluded dangerous maneuvers made to 
entrap him, and avoided engagements with forces 


which he thought powerful enough to give him serious 

At Vernon, for example of his shrewd strategy, he 
found it necessary to pass around the town and con- 
tinue his march without a fight, which he did by mak- 
ing a demonstration in the direction of Madison to 
prevent reinforcements being sent from there, and by 
making a great show of preparations for storming 
Vernon. He demanded the surrender of the latter 
town, which was refused ; but time was asked to 
remove the women and children. Two hours were 
granted, and in that time Morgan got his column well 
past the point of danger and far on in the direction 
of Dupont. Then, after burning some bridges, his 
skirmish line waved adieu to the strong force in Ver- 
non, and joined the rear of the division. 

At Dupont the raiders again displayed their ability 
in the way of plundering. General Duke tells the story 
well. " A large meat-packing establishment was in this 
town," he says, "and each man had a ham slung at 
his saddle." Two thousand hams would make quite 
a vacancy in that pork house. General Duke does not 
say whether or not he got hold of a good hind leg of 
a pig ! What is most amazing in the account of this 
wild raid is the statement that the column was actually 
in motion twenty-two hours, on an average, every day. 
Men and horses so hard pressed as that had to eat 
while running, so to speak, and doubtless a ham did 
not last a hungry dragoon very long. 

From Vernon, Morgan pressed on to Versailles, scat- 
tered a band of militia hastily gathered there, and cap- 


tured a great many good horses. Marching rapidly 
from Versailles, he soon entered the State of Ohio not 
far west of Cincinnati. He was now approaching dan- 
gerous ground ; for by this time General Burnside and 
General Judah had taken steps to confront him with 
a force of veteran fighters quite equal to his own in 
pluck and vigor, and far superior in numbers. Yet 
Morgan might have entered Cincinnati had he known 
the exact situation. As it was, he again repeated his 
tactics by threatening the city and sweeping past it 
on the north. 

From that time on, the raiders had a hard task to 
perform. They marched more than ninety miles in 
thirty-five hours, from Sunman in Indiana to Wil- 
liamsburg in Ohio, a point twenty-eight miles east of 
Cincinnati. A few days later, in a fight on the bank 
of the Ohio near Buffington Island, Morgan's command 
was defeated by forces under Generals Judah and 
Hobson, and a large part of it captured. Morgan 
himself soon had to surrender, and so ended the great 

Governor Morton, when notified that Morgan had 
entered Indiana, made a call to the people for volun- 
teer troops. The first impression was that the invaders 
numbered from ten to twenty thousand, and that they 
were marching upon Indianapolis. In response to the 
governor's call, more than sixty thousand men were 
organized and offered themselves to the State. No 
better proof of Indiana's faithfulness to the Union 
could have been desired. In every county, the citizens 
rushed to arms. Even the women caught the enthu- 


siasm and bravely helped their brothers, fathers, hus- 
bands, lovers, sons, to get ready for the expected fight. 
It is probable that Morgan's raid did more to arouse 
patriotism to the highest pitch than any other event 
after the firing upon Fort Sumter. It came just at the 
time when the whole North was elated with the news 
from Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and the dash of terror 
had just the effect of a cold bath followed by a tingling 
reaction. After that there was no such thing as doubt- 
ing the speedy success of the Union cause. Not even 
the defeat at Chickamauga, when Bragg, in September, 
drove Rosecrans upon Chattanooga, could dampen the 
great national enthusiasm. 


KENTUCKY gave Lincoln to Indiana; North Caro- 
lina gave Richard Jordan Gatling. These two 
have been, perhaps, the most successful of all those 
who came from the South over into our State after it 
was admitted into the Federal Union. Both were self- 
made, and it is interesting to note how each of them 
slowly forced his way from the plow to the highest 
place in his chosen field of ambition, and how our great 
Civil War afforded them both the greatest opportuni- 
ties for personal advancement, as well as the greatest 
incentive to wonderful achievement. And yet how 
different their paths of life ! One became the most 
famous President since Washington, the other has 
taken the highest seat in the grand association of 
American inventors. 

Dr. Gatling was born on September 12, 18 18, in Hert- 
ford County, North Carolina. He was the son of a 
farmer who owned a few slaves; but he was taught 
to work, and did work, when a boy. His father was 
a man of an inventive mind, giving much time to 
experimenting with machines for saving labor, particu- 
larly those used in the production of cotton. The son 
assisted in constructing a cotton drill for planting the 
seed, and a machine for thinning out the young plants 



in the rows, and it was while thus employed that he 
received the training in mechanics which was afterwards 
of so much use to him. 

He had but a slender education, such as he could get 
in an old-fashioned school ; but his mind was active, 
alert, and inquisitive. For a while he served as copy- 
ist in the county clerk's office. At that time he was 
but fifteen years old. Four years later he taught 
school, and then became a merchant, doing business 
on a small scale. Meantime his inventive srenius could 
not rest. He prepared a model of a screw propeller 
for steam vessels, and took it to Washington to have 
it patented ; but he found that another inventor was 
just ahead of him, and had already placed a model 
in that office and was applying for a patent on the 

Gatling returned home not a little cast down, but yet 
fully determined to make his inventive genius win the 
meed due to industry, perseverance, and honesty. He 
invented a machine for sowing rice ; but this did not 
succeed in bringing him either money or distinction, 
and he left his native State to try his fortune in St. 
Louis, Missouri, where for a while he was a dry-goods 
clerk. About this time he invented a wheat drill, with 
which he was quite fortunate. While traveling over 
the country promoting the sale of his drills, he con- 
tracted that dread disease, smallpox, and came near 
dying of it. This experience turned his active mind 
to the study of medicine. He attended lectures at the 
Indiana Medical College at Laporte, and at the Ohio 
Medical College in Cincinnati ; but he did not practice 


as a physician, preferring the more active and lucrative 
business of real estate speculation and the building of 
railroads. He went to live in Indianapolis, where in 
1854 he married Miss Saunders, daughter of a promi- 
nent physician. His energy, sagacity, and great knowl- 
edge of men and of mechanics soon placed him at the 
head of several successful enterprises connected with 
the rapid development of our wonderful young city. 
His wheat drills became very popular with the farmers 
and had a " great run " in the markets. Indeed, they 
changed the whole system of sowing wheat. 

Here our inventor might have rested, ending a very 
successful and useful career ; but with the great war 
of 1 860- 1 865 came the suggestion of another problem 
for his inventive genius to solve. Dr. Gatling's experi- 
ence in having patents refused him had led him to be 
very cautious. He remembered that in 1849 hi s great 
invention, of a means by which power could be trans- 
mitted from a stationary source to a distant plant of 
machinery, had been denied a patent on the ground 
that it was a " discovery " and not an invention. So 
when the thought of constructing a cannon which 
would, as he thought he foresaw, ''revolutionize the 
whole system of artillery " in the world's military 
operations, he took every precaution to guard his 

The war had just begun when the subject of con- 
structing a machine gun first claimed Dr. Gatling's 
serious consideration. The main point was to combine 
in the weapon lightness and great rapidity of firing, 
with accuracy and adequate range, so that one man by 


turning a hand crank could with ease and steadiness 
of aim pour out an almost continuous stream of missiles 
effective at a long distance. It was a grim conception, 
and if it could be realized the Gatling gun would become 
a chief factor in the war for the Union. It was a great 

With characteristic swiftness and clearness the vet- 
eran inventor comprehended the whole task before him. 
There was not a moment's delay. He set about experi- 
menting, and soon had a rudimentary model constructed. 
Then detail after detail was perfected, until the whole 
compact and beautiful machine stood before him ready 
to be tested. This was in the spring of 1862, when the 
war was assuming a phase most threatening to the 
safety of the Union. 

At Indianapolis, in the presence of a few friends, 
including some army officers, Dr. Gatling tested the 
gun with his own hand, firing two hundred and fifty 
shots in one minute, and the effect of the missiles was 
shown to be equal to that of about two hundred men 
firing with muskets. This demonstration was appalling 
to the inventor's friends and relatives, and they forth- 
with appealed to him for the sake of humanity to stop 
short with his terrible weapon and not permit it to come 
into general use in the army. Such destruction of 
human life as its frightful efficiency promised, seemed 
to those good people fiendish rather than indicative of 
a high and Christian civilization. Dr. Gatling, however, 
assumed that the best preventive of war and slaughter 
in the long run would be to make every battle short, 
terrible, decisive. He argued that the introduction of 


his guns into the United States armies in the field 
would be equivalent to an increase of at least one 
hundred men for each gun used in battle, and that it 
would be so destructive that the war would soon come 


to an end. Another view insisted upon by him was 
that for every Gatling gun used there would be but one 
or two men exposed where, with the use of muskets or 
rifles, one hundred or more men would have to face the 
enemy. So, regarded as a mere labor-saving machine, 
the invention was almost an ideal arm. 

The first trial more than demonstrated, to Dr. Gat- 
ling at least, the immense value of what he had done ; 


therefore he set about preparing to manufacture Gatling 
guns for use in the army, but he met with most discour- 
aging delays. The foundry at Cincinnati, where the 
work was being done, burned down. Moreover, the 
authorities at Washington were slow about ordering 
the introduction of his guns into the service. Some 
of them were finally accepted, however, and General 
Butler used them in repelling an attack upon his forces 
on the James River in Virginia; but they did not come 
into general use until after our war closed. Since that 
time every nation in Europe, Belgium excepted, has 
ordered commissioners to examine and report upon 
their value, and they have been adopted in the service 
of Great Britain, Egypt, Turkey, Hungary, and Russia. 
The United States adopted them in 1866. 

At this time (1898) Dr. Gatling is still living and is 
actively engaged in the manufacture of his guns at 
Hartford, Connecticut, where he resides. Time has 
proved that his theory regarding the beneficial effects 
of rapid-firing and exceedingly destructive arms was 
correct. His invention has led to the construction and 
use of various other machine guns and kindred weapons 
by which war is rendered so uncertain, so dreadful, and 
so sudden in its result that nations hesitate, and trust 
to diplomacy and arbitration, rather than risk the 
chances of battle which can no longer be calculated 
with confidence. 

Dr. Gatling has lately invented a method of casting 
steel guns, which he thinks will practically do away 
with every other process of manufacturing heavy can- 
non. He has also patented a gunboat, a torpedo, and 


a pneumatic gun for firing shells of the highest explo- 
sive character. Indeed, his old age is as full of ac- 
tivity and practical achievements as his whole past life 
has been ; which gives to the world one more grand 
object lesson, showing how earnestness, alertness, and 
industrious intelligence can surmount every obstacle 
and snatch ample success from the stingy hands of 
adversity. The history of Indiana could not be com- 
plete without the fullest and sincerest recognition of 
what Richard Jordan Gatling has done to make our 
annals instructive and our achievements memorable. 

Of course his revolving cannon, known the world 
over as the " Gatling gun," is the most famous of his 
inventions. It is " a group of rifle barrels arranged 
longitudinally around a central axis or shaft, revolving 
with it. These barrels are loaded at the breach with 
metallic cartridges," and its simple construction is such 
that by turning a crank the loading and firing are prac- 
tically simultaneous and continuous. The gun requires 
but two men to work it to the utmost of its capacity, 
which is a thousand shots in one minute, and various 
modifications of its pattern and style have been made 
to adapt it perfectly to use on war vessels and in forts 
and fortresses, as well as in the field. 


IN his interesting book, already familiar to the reader, 
Oliver H. Smith makes the following inquiry : — 
" Is there one other State in the Union that has pro- 
duced finer poets than John Finley, Esq., of Richmond 
[Indiana], Mrs. John L. Dumont, of Vevay, Mrs. Sarah 
T. Bolton, Rev. Sydney Dyer, Rev. James Greene, and 
Henry W. Ellsworth, Esq., of Indianapolis?" 

It would be a most ungracious task to undertake to 
answer such a question in the affirmative ; and it would 
scarcely be true to answer negatively. The poets men- 
tioned are all good and worthy ; but at the time Mr. 
Smith was writing, Massachusetts had within her limits 
some of the most noble and famous poets of modern 
times. We need not make our praise too sweeping in 
presenting the just claims of Indiana's literary people; 
their work may well stand fairly upon its merit. Mrs. 
Bolton has written some things that will not easily die. 
Her song " Paddle Your Own Canoe" has been sung 
the world over ; but it cannot reasonably be preferred 
to what Longfellow, Lowell, Emerson, Whittier, Mrs. 
Julia Ward Howe, T. W. Parsons, Oliver Wendell 
Holmes, and other Massachusetts poets have written. 
A true word is better than a flattering word. The six 
poets of Indiana mentioned by Mr. Smith were honor- 

STO. OF IND. — 1 8 273 


able and earnest pioneers in our field of letters. Since 
their day we have had far greater singers. 

It would not be possible to enumerate here all the 
writers who have reflected credit upon our State ; but 
some of the books most famous in recent American 
literature have been written by citizens of Indiana, or 
by natives of Indiana resident in other States. We are 
not called upon, and we are glad of it, to make com- 
parisons or to draw critical lines, in briefly sketching 
some of these books and their authors. • Our task is 
rather that of the loving friend of all the Indiana 
writers great and small, who undertakes to make a 
partial list of the best of them, to which the reader 
may add such names as are, by mischance or want 
of space, left out. The names of these writers are 
arranged alphabetically, so that their works may be 
more easily referred to. 

Henry Ward Beecher spent some of his young man- 
hood in Indiana as a preacher; he afterwards gained 
world-wide fame ; and, to pass from one extreme to 
another, Emerson Bennett, a very popular writer of 
sensational romances, at one time lived at Lawrence- 
burg and edited a literary paper there called " The 
Casket." Mary Hartwell Catherwood, born at Luray, 
Ohio, lived for some years in Indiana ; she has written 
several successful novels, and has been a favorite con- 
tributor to the " Century," the " Atlantic Monthly," and 
" Lippincott's Magazine." Few romancers have been 
so fortunate as she in quickly making fame and easily 
holding it. John Dillon has written an excellent " His- 
tory of Indiana." Jacob P. Dunn's historical writings 




have won him a high place in the es- 
teem of critics, and his works are popu- 
lar. Edward Eggleston, a native of 
Indiana, author of the " Hoosier School- 
master " and several other novels, be- 
sides some historical works, is one of 
the best-known writers now living in 
New York. John Hay, the author of a 
" Life of Lincoln," written in collabo- 
ration with John G. Nicolay, is also a 
poet and the reputed author of "The 
Breadwinners," a famous novel. He 
was born at Salem, Indiana. Robert U. Johnson was, 
we believe, educated at Earlham College, Richmond, 
and lived there until he went to New York. He is a 
charming poet and an editor of the " Century." 

One of the best-known men ever born in Indiana is 

Edward Eggleston. 

Cincinnatus Hiner 
of Joaquin Miller. 

Joaquin Miller 

Miller, who writes under the name 
His poetry, especially the first vol- 
ume, entitled " Songs of 
the Sierras," made a great 
impression in both Eng- 
land and America. He 
now lives in California. 
Meredith Nicholson is a 
young Indiana poet of the 
highest promise, living in 
Indianapolis. His verse is 
exquisitely artistic, and is 
winning marked favor with 
those bestqualified to judge. 


His volume entitled "Short Flights" is one of the most 
charming first books of verse ever written by an American 
youth. Robert Dale Owen was the author of several 
interesting books, among which his " Footfalls on the 
Boundary of Another World" is the most famous. 
Benjamin S. Parker, of Newcastle, has won a most 
honorable place in Indiana history with his sweet and 
simple poetry. He is a genuine singer of the common 
life of the people. John James Piatt, one of the best- 
known poets now living in the West, is a native of our 
State. He and W. D. Howells published their first 
verses together in a little volume entitled "Poems of Two 
Friends " ; since then he has been a prolific and justly 

successful author. 

No living American 
has had a more brilliant 
career than James Whit- 
comb Riley, a native, and 
all his life a resident, of 
Indiana. Mr. Riley is 
doubly gifted, being a 
natural actor of comedy 
as well as a born poet. 
His verses combine fine 
pathos with gentle hu- 
mor, and they easily 
touch popular sympathy. 
John Clark Ridpath is a historian of marked ability 
and scholarship. His works are monuments of industry 
and genius. He was formerly connected with Asbury 
(now De Pauw) University at Greeneastle. He writes 


John Clark Ridpath. 

with ease and grace, and his books have been widely pop- 
ular. Will. H. Thompson, now 
of Seattle, Washington, but for 
years a resident of Crawfords- 
ville, Indiana, wrote "The High 
Tide at Gettysburg," which is, 
perhaps, the best battle poem 
written upon the subject of the 
great Civil War. It first ap- 
peared in the " Century Mag- 
azine " ; but since then it has 
gone all over the world, receiv- 
ing the highest praise. 

General Lewis Wallace is 
one of the most distinguished 
men of Indiana's history. He was a successful military 
man in our great war of 1 860-1 865 ; served as Governor 
of New Mexico with ex- 
cellent ability, and with 
honorable distinction as 
our country's represen- 
tative at the court of the 
Sultan in Turkey ; but 
his fame will rest most 
securely upon "BenHur," 
his wonderfully popular 
novel, which, next to 
" Uncle Tom's Cabin," 
has had the greatest sales 
of any romance ever writ- 
ten by an American. And 

General Lewis Wallace. 


in the long run it will probably turn out that " Ben 
Hur" will outstrip even ''Uncle Tom's Cabin," its 
subject being of perennial interest to a large class of 
readers. General Wallace has written several other 
successful books. 

Mrs. Susan E. Wallace, wife of General Lewis Wal- 
lace, has written books of charming interest, of which 
the " Storied Sea," a collection of travel sketches made 
in the far East, is, perhaps, best known. She has also 
written some sweet and tender poetry. Mr. and Mrs. 
Wallace live at Crawfordsville. 

William Wesley Woollen of Indianapolis is the author 
of a delightful book of biographical sketches of distin- 
guished Indianians, entitled " Biographical and Histori- 
cal Sketches of Early Indiana." It is a volume highly 
valuable to students of Indiana history and politics. 

Outside of the above list may be mentioned the spe- 
cial historical works of John Law, Colonel Richard W. 
Thompson, and William H. English. And, without 
comment, the present writer suggests the fact that he 
is himself a native of Indiana, who would feel it an 
honor to stand at the foot of her literary class and 
respond % with his "adsutn" when the roll call is made. 

But the most influential writers of Indiana are in her 
army of journalists, the men and women who mold 
public opinion through the newspapers. A mere list 
of these, and of the corps of outside contributors to 
the daily, weekly, and monthly press, would be like 
Homer's catalogue of the ships. Indiana is alive, alert, 
up to date in letters and science, as well as in agricul- 
ture, manufacture, and trade. 


\ \ 7" HEN natural gas was found by boring down 
V V into the rocks underground near Pittsburg, 
Pennsylvania, the discovery was not at first regarded 
with much expectation ; but the happy thought of using 
this invisible substance for fuel changed the whole 
aspect of a busy and smoky city's manufacturing in- 
terests. Great excitement followed the successful ex- 
periment of piping gas from the wells to the large 
establishments whose fuel had always before that been 
coal. Pittsburg changed, as if by magic, from the 
sootiest, gloomiest, smokiest city in our country to a 
perfectly clean, bright, and altogether attractive place. 
Vast fortunes were suddenly made by speculators in 
gas lands and by operators in gas schemes. 

A little later, boring was begun in various other 
places. At Findlay, Ohio, a tremendous flow of gas 
was the result of a well sunk by a fortunate prospector ; 
and, as though an irresistible signal had been given 
for it, there was a wild rush of people to that town. 
Never since the days of the California gold excitement 
had such a frenzy of public feeling been witnessed. 
Speculation took proportions which now appear almost 
incredible. Lands increased in some instances a thou- 
sand fold in value. 



Findlay was then a small town in Ohio, not far from 
the Indiana line. Immediately after the discovery of 
natural gas there, it grew to be a very important place. 
Manufactories sprang up as if a wizard's wand had dis- 
closed them by a magic stroke. By this time, the best 
and most active minds of the country were beginning 
to investigate the source and nature of the strange 
fluid substance suddenly become so important, and the 
ground was being pierced everywhere with holes in 
search of it. The northeastern part of Ohio was, for 
the time, the most interesting region in the world ; for 
not only was it attractive to the industrial and commer- 
cial part of mankind, but even more did it absorb the 
attention of men devoted to science. Nothing like the 
phenomenon, if we may properly so call it, of jets of 
roaring, combustible gas leaping a hundred feet high 
out of the earth had ever been before seen all over a 
vast area of country. 

But scarcely had the gas field of Ohio been success- 
fully opened, before energetic prospectors fell to work 
sinking bores in Indiana. A flame of fire, like a foun- 
tain of incandescent water, flared against the sky from 
a well at Kokomo. It could be seen by night from 
miles away. At first the full meaning of such a dis- 
covery did not enter the public mind ; but it was soon 
caught by the alert few who always profit by every turn 
of fortune. Of course there was a rush to Kokomo, 
and pretty soon wells- were being bored in a score of 
places. This was about the year 1885, and now the gas 
field of Indiana is the greatest in the world. So impor- 
tant had the gas interest become in 1888, that a law was 


passed at the next meeting of the General Assembly 
by which the office of Supervisor of Natural Gas was 
established, to be filled by a competent man whose duty 
it should be to devote his time wholly to the study, 
supervision, and proper care of the great source of 
wealth and comfort so suddenly developed in the State. 
In the mean time it was ascertained by careful experi- 
ments that Indiana's gas region covered an area of 
nearly five thousand square miles. In many places 
within this fortunate region towns sprang from mere 
villages into cities of great manufacturing importance, 
which attracted vast amounts of capital and trade. 
Kokomo, Marion, Gas City, Anderson, and a dozen 
other places equally worthy of mention, have been 
wonderfully built up by the wells in their vicinity. 
Not only have the towns and villages within the actual 
gas area been doubly and trebly prosperous on that 
account ; but even distant cities have had the gas piped 
to them underground. As far west as Crawfordsville 
these pipe lines have changed the whole system of 
heating, in both private houses and manufacturing 
establishments, so that the expense has been lessened 
almost two thirds. 

But what is natural gas ? Where does it come from ? 
How is it reached ? These are questions well worth 
the attention of all intelligent people. Probably no 
discovery of a natural store of valuable matter, not 
even the diamond fields of Africa, nor yet the gold 
deposits of California, had quite the romantic mystery 
and the startling surprise afforded by the sudden loos- 
ing of fuel gas from the lowest formation of our strati- 


fied rocks. True, it had been known for many years 
that explosive gases were imprisoned within the air- 
tight caverns and crevices of the earth ; but no person 
had even dreamed of vast reservoirs of it awaiting the 
drill and the pipe line. And even after these had been 
discovered, it required some time for men of science to 
comprehend what the secret was that old earth had 
been forced to reveal. 

As a matter of course, imaginative people at once 
began to indulge in the most picturesque fancies. Nerv- 
ous persons became hysterically alarmed and predicted 
the explosion of the whole vast combustible deposit, 
which would cause the upheaval of the land and the 
destruction of every living thing thereon. There were 
those who thought it wicked to use a fuel drawn up 
from an unknown and mysterious region. Others went 
so far as to suggest that from nowhere but the dread- 
ful abode of Satan could come this evil-smelling and 
awfully combustible substance ! But intelligence and 
scientific methods must always sooner or later dispel 
the apparent mysteries of natural manifestations. In 
the case of gas, it was difficult at first to collect data 
for systematic study. Men were wildly excited ; they 
exaggerated every fact; they proceeded in the most 
haphazard way to their work ; and through both igno- 
rance and a desire to conceal the truth for the sake of 
speculation, they misrepresented the order and nature 
of the rocks through which they drilled in sinking their 

A corps of enthusiastic and thoroughly trained scien- 
tists, however, were steadily pursuing the investigation. 


Every feature of the gas region was studied ; every 
well was visited ; the materials brought up out of the 
ground were subjected to microscopical and chemical 
examinations ; and the gas itself underwent the most 
searching analyses. Such a method could not fail in 
the long run to give good results, and before many 
months had passed, some of the safest and coolest 
thinkers among those conducting the investigations had, 
independently of one another, reached the same gen- 
eral conclusion as to the nature, the origin, and the 
situation of natural gas ; all of which can be explained 
in the simplest terms and with very few words. 

But there were some men of most excellent attain- 
ments in natural science who were in too great a hurry 
to be sure of what they were doing ; they were anxious 
to be the first to tell the world the whole truth about 
natural gas. It was a very laudable ambition ; but 
science never jumps at conclusions without first seeing 
where it is going to land. The first theories flung forth 
by those over-anxious scientists have now a ludicrous 
appearance. For example, one theory was that our 
natural gas deposit had its origin in the action of hot 
water upon mineral substances in the bowels of the 
earth. Very learned essays were written to explain how 
this meeting of superheated water with metallic oxides 
had been brought about and how the gas had been 
generated thereby. Other theories equally fanciful, and 
having no basis whatever upon the facts actually exist- 
ing in the gas field, were laboriously built up. But the 
truth was not for mere theorists. Nature gives up her 
facts to the man who wrings them from her grasp. 


The first great fact settled in connection with the gas 
deposit was that in Ohio and Indiana the supply came 
from a certain rock formation known to geologists as the 
Trenton limestone. In the substance of this rock there 
was discovered no evidence of the action of heat. It is 
a grayish stone of ordinary appearance to the naked 
eye, but more or less finely porous when looked at 
through a magnifying glass. It lies at the bottom of 
the Silurian limestone formation, just above what is 
called the Potsdam sandstone, which rests upon the 
igneous rocks. You may have a good general impres- 
sion of its situation by thinking a moment over the 
following statement of what the drill goes through in 
boring down to the gas rock (Trenton limestone): First, 
soil ; next, drift or bowlder clay ; next, the Carbon- 
iferous formation, including what is often called the 
Subcarboniferous ; next, the Devonian shales and lime- 
stones ; next, the Upper and then the Lower Silurian 
formations, reaching the Trenton in the lowest limestone 
of the last, usually somewhat below the level of the 
sea. Of course, where the Carboniferous formations are 
absent, as is mostly the case in the gas area, the drill 
will reach the Devonian rocks first after passing through 
the soil and drift. In some places even the Devonian 
is missing, and probably a part of the Silurian, which of 
course leaves less rock to drill through before reaching 
the Trenton. 

When the drill gets well down into the Trenton lime- 
stone, the gas, if it is there, will immediately begin to 
escape at the top of the well, usually with a great hiss- 
ing and roaring noise, easily heard a furlong away ; and 


when it is set on fire it makes such a roar that it 
sometimes reaches to a distance of two miles, the blaze 
leaping up high into the air, lighting the whole country 
round about, and making intense heat. 

The actual depth of the boring to reach gas in Indi- 
ana depends, of course, upon the distance from the sur- 
face down to the Trenton limestone, in which it is 
stored. Usually this is from 700 to 1500 feet. At 
Kokomo the wells were a little over 900 feet deep. 
At Muncie, Trenton rock was found at 878 feet below 
the surface; at Anderson, about 850 feet; at Win- 
chester, about 1000 feet. 

It was soon found, by careful experiments with accu- 
rate instruments for measuring pressure, that the gas 
had a force of about 325 pounds to the square inch all 
over its vast area. When this tremendous power was 
made public, a great many people again became 
alarmed. They feared that the whole top of the earth 
would be blown off. It was, indeed, very difficult to 
explain the situation to the understanding of many 
simple minds. They were inclined to think that the 
gas was a recent manifestation of some awful under- 
ground volcanic plot of Nature's planning, by which 
dire calamities were to be precipitated. One man, 
somewhat gifted in mathematics, but of a most hys- 
terical disposition, came into the office of the State 
Geologist at Indianapolis one day and insisted upon 
showing a calculation by which it was proven conclu- 
sively to his mind that in a few years the whole northern 
part of Indiana would be upheaved into a mountain 
range by the upward pressure of natural gas. He had 


weighed many samples of rock, and had arrived at the 

average weight of a cubic inch, from which he had 

calculated that a force of less than two 

thousand pounds to the 

square inch would uplift 

all the rocks overlying 

the Trenton. His 

9 theory was that 

the gas pressure 

was very rapidly 

j increasing, and 

' that in a short 

time the cataclysm 

would come. He 

was very much excited over his 


"Whenever the pressure down there," he cried in a 

high key, " gets a little stronger, the crust of rock and 

earth will break with a mighty crash, and up will fly 

everything ! " 

But geologists soon solved the main problem of the 
natural gas supply. To the question, What is this gas ? 
they replied : It is an elemental product of petroleum 
or rock oil. And it was easily shown that the great 
gas area of Indiana had its deposits of oil near the gas 
and in the same Trenton rock. A careful examination 
disclosed the fact that, although the surface of the 
ground in the gas field was generally level, the deep- 
buried rocks were bent into wavelike cones and ridges, 
in which the gas was usually found. Moreover, all the 
strata of our rock formations showed a slant westward, 


dipping deeper down as they were followed from near 
the eastern line of the State toward Illinois. As the 
rock dip increased, the depth of the wells became 
greater, until water took the place of gas in the porous 

An Indiana Oil Well. 

Trenton limestone. Sometimes oil was found instead 
of water; but it was noted that gas rarely appeared 
in very deep wells. In other words, when the rocks 
dipped down very far, the stratum in which gas should 
have been was found to hold either water or oil. This 


showed simply that gas, being light, arose into the 
highest parts of the porous rocks, while water and oil, 
being heavy, sank to the lowest parts of the same. 
The gas was like the steam above hot water in a 
closed vessel. 

But if gas is the product of rock oil, of what is the oil 
a product ? This question can be answered, not cer- 
tainly with an air of absolute knowledge, but with 
probable accuracy in the main. All indications point 
to a relationship between its origin and that of coal. 
The following statement from the Fifteenth Report of 
the State Geologist of Indiana is clear and simple : 
" Nearly all the conditions which point to a vegetable 
origin for fossil coal, affect both petroleum and natural 
gas, as will be better understood by keeping it in mind 
that oil and gas are able to travel through passages in 
the rocks underground, while coal must remain in the 
place where first deposited. It is because oil and gas 
have flowed readily and, perhaps, to great distances 
under favorable circumstances, through subterraneous 
channels, that we cannot always trace them to a local 
source. It is very significant, however, that, as a rule, 
any strong and persistent stream of natural gas will not 
be far from deposits of petroleum." 

It seems most probable that petroleum and natural 
gas may have originated from the decomposition of both 
vegetable and animal matter, or it may possibly have 
been wholly from either one or the other. We know 
that decaying plants buried deep in the ground do 
generate a fine, light, very combustible gas. Further- 
more, in all coal mines there is a constant danger from 


gas, evidently the product of a similar process. But 
animal bodies also throw off, when decomposing, the 
same sort of inflammable gas. Bituminous coals and 
petroleum afford large quantities of splendidly illumi- 
nating and heating gas, scarcely different from natural 
gas, save in lightness. All of which considerations sug- 
gest that coal, petroleum, and natural gas all may have 
had much the same origin, and that if this be true, 
natural gas might safely be referred to the decomposi- 
tion of organic matter mostly vegetable. 

But where did the vegetable matter come from, and 
how did it find its way into the substance of the Trenton 
limestone ? In the first chapter of this book, we have 
outlined the story of how the stratified rocks of Indiana 
were deposited. The Potsdam sandstone lies upon the 
ancient igneous rock, and it marks the bed of the first 
sea formed here after the earth cooled. Upon the Pots- 
dam sandstone lies the Lower Silurian formation, of 
which the Trenton limestone is a part. There are but 
slight remains of plant life in these lower rocks ; but it 
is not probable that plant structures were then of a 
character to be preserved in a fossil state. It has been 
supposed that vast rafts of seaweed possessing but little 
woody matter had accumulated on the water, and had 
finally been driven into a landlocked place, where in 
time they were cast upon the sea floor and covered with 
the limy deposits thereof. Since then all the present 
rock system has been laid over them by the ever-subsid- 
ing and ever-returning seas. Thus imprisoned, the vege- 
table matter has been slowly changing through the ages 
and turning itself into petroleum and natural gas. 

STO. OF IND. — 19 


It has been found that sea plants do not flourish well 
in water of over 150 fathoms depth, so that a compara- 
tively shallow sea would best afford large quantities of 
them ; but enormous amounts of coarse, floating sea- 
weeds form the surface of what is called the Sargasso 
sea, and these are blown to and fro by the wind, or 
kept in position by counteracting forces. Some such 
almost incredibly vast raft of early seaweed may have 
been imprisoned on some sandy shore of the Potsdam 
Sea and so, having been covered with rock substance, 
it at last, after the proper chemical changes, passed 
upward into the porous substance of the Trenton lime- 
stone to be freed by the drill thousands, possibly mil- 
lions, of years later, for the benefit of a highly civilized 
people. If this is not indeed the reality, it is at least 
the romance, of natural gas. 

There is no means of reckoning up the advantages 
afforded to the people of Indiana by the discovery of 
our gas field. It has changed the whole business 
atmosphere ; and within reach of its pipe lines almost 
every home has become the seat of perpetual summer. 
Wherever its burners flame, smoke and soot and ashes 
are banished. The heat in a house may be regulated 
to one's desire, and there is no such thing as making 
fires, or carrying out ashes, or sweeping dirt off the 
hearth. You may no longer distinguish a great manu- 
facturing town by the cloud of black smoke hanging 
upon it. And the cheapness of the gas is amazing. A 
whole house may be heated with it at scarcely greater 
expense than was involved in the heating of one room 
formerly, when we burned wood or coal. 


Shall we always have this gas ? Probably not twenty 
years ; but possibly much longer. At all events, the 
supply has been rapidly failing in most places. At 
first it was regarded as inexhaustible, and there was 
enormous waste of it at the wells. Thousands upon 
thousands of dollars' worth of it went up into the air 
or flamed itself away, while gaping multitudes stood by 
to gaze and wonder. Any schoolboy may profitably 
amuse himself with the following problem : How much 
gas, having a pressure of 325 pounds to the square 
inch, will escape in 24 hours from a pipe 3 inches 
in diameter ? Some of the best wells were left open 
for many weeks, the gas rushing forth at full pressure. 

At present every effort is being made to secure 
the most economical management of the gas output in 
order to make the supply last as long as possible. It 
will be very hard for people accustomed to the steady 
and perfectly controlled heat furnished by a fuel so 
cheap, handy, and clean, to take up again the old un- 
satisfactory round of wood and coal, smoke and ashes. 
Already the attention of inventors and experimenters 
is turned to the problem of manufacturing a cheap gas 
which may take the place of natural gas when the sub- 
terraneous reservoirs shall be exhausted. Man fancies 
that if Nature can make gas out of seaweeds, there is 
no reason why he should not make it out of coal quite 
as good and equally cheap. 

This mention of coal brings us to the point of saying 
a few words about the vast bituminous coal deposits of 
Indiana. There is no great story to tell about them, 
yet they are in many regards most wonderful. What 


is known as the "block" coal of Indiana is by far the 
finest bituminous coal in the world. It is almost as 
clean as anthracite, burns nearly as purely as cannel 
coal, has no sulphur in it, and after burning falls to 
light, clean ashes like the ashes of wood. All the coals 
in the State lie in seams of varying thickness between 
massive strata of rocks where they appear to have been 
subjected to immense pressure for ages. And here it 
is that some of the most curious and interesting relics 
of ancient days have been found. 

Beautiful fernlike plants have left their perfect im- 
pressions in the shales lying next to the coal seams, 
and the casts of roots, tree stems, leaves, fruits, spores, 
and the like are plentifully packed away in clayey part- 
ings and in the siliceous earth between the coal and 
the rocks. Above these and below, the limestones and 
sandstones are loaded with the shells of marine ani- 

But we must not run away into geology and paleon- 
tology. We are concerned with the gas fields and coal 
fields at present only so far as they testify to the prog- 
ress of our State and help to give a competent impres- 
sion of her history. The building of railroads and 
manufactories hastened the development of our mines. 
A very large part of the southeastern quarter of Indiana 
proved to be underlain with many seams of coal, one 
above another, and separated by rock strata of varying 
thickness and nature. When mining operations were 
begun on a liberal scale, the result was that a large 
increase of population and wealth soon stimulated pub- 
lic improvements. For a number of years, no State 


in the Union surpassed Indiana in the rapidity with 
which internal resources were developed. From 1866 
to 1885, railroads were built through the State in every 
direction. This opened the markets of the world to 
our coal, timber, grain, cattle, building stone, kaolin, 
and, indeed, everything that we had to offer for sale. 
The price of products advanced and land rose rapidly 
in value. 

In 1873, when the Vandalia Railroad, then the 
Logansport, Crawfordsville, and Southwestern, was 
beginning to take hold of the magnificent coal treas- 
ures of Parke County, a party, consisting of a railroad 
president, a chief engineer, a State Geologist, and a 
number of Eastern capitalists, visited the Sand Creek 
mine in that county for the purpose of examining the 
output. While on the ground the attention of all was 
attracted by a slab of stone in which were imbedded 
thousands of curious and interesting fossil shells. 
Meantime a Quaker farmer of demure countenance 
and quiet bearing had joined the company. The State 
Geologist was learnedly explaining how the shells had 
found their way into the solid substance of the rock, 
and all the rest were respectfully listening. 

"This limestone," said he, tapping it with his ham- 
mer, " came from the roof of the coal mine yonder. 
It is the bed of a sea that deposited it a hundred thou- 
sand years ago. These fossils were shellfish living in 
that sea. They died and were buried in the lime sedi- 
ment constantly forming on the bottom of the sea. 
That sediment became limestone, and now we find it 
with all its shellfish still in it." 


The good and pious Quaker had held his peace as 
long as possible. 

" Friend," said he to the geologist, "thee says what 
thee can't prove, and thee ought to be ^ 
ashamed to dispute the Holy Book." 

" But I can prove it," insisted the geol- 
ogist, glad of a polemical opportunity 
" Here is the rock. It came from 
deep in the bowels of the earth. 
These are seashells. Where did 
they come from, if they didn't fi 


come from a sea ? 

" Friend," quietly 
spoke the Quaker, 
"let me ask thee a 

" Certainly." 

"Is not God all- 
powerful ? " 


" Did not He make all things ? " 


" He made fishes, clams, periwinkle shells and all ? " 

" To be sure." 

" The earth and all that is in it ? " 


"Then, friend, it was just as easy for God to make 
rocks down in the ground with shells already in them, 
as it was for Him to make a sea with shells in it. 
Thee's not as smart as thee thinks thee is, friend." 

The laugh was upon the geologist during the rest of 


the day, and whenever he offered a learned remark 
some one was sure to say, "Thee's not as smart as 
thee thinks thee is ! " And probably he was not. 

The coal lands of Indiana cover an area of nearly 
seven thousand square miles in the southwestern part 
of the State. In all there are fourteen distinct seams 
of coal ; each seam, as a rule, is overlain with a bitumi- 
nous shale and underlain by a bed of fire clay. In this 
fire clay are found roots, coarse stems of very large 
plants, and various other vegetable remains, while in 
the shales above the coal, leaves and ferns and grass- 
like impressions are abundant. This would seem to 
indicate unquestionably the vegetable origin of coal. 
But immediately above the plant-bearing shales lie 
rocks crowded full of marine shells, which shows that 
after the growth of the coal plants there came a time 
when the sea covered the whole area and deposited 
thereon its burden of lime, sand, and dead animal forms. 
Then, after a long time, the water receded and the coal 
plants grew again to be covered as before. This was 
repeated at least fourteen times before the coal age 

We can now look back and understand in some de- 
gree how the vegetable matter from which petroleum 
and natural gas were formed found its way into the 
rocks far below the coal measures. But do we realize 
what strides the civilization of Indiana has made since 
the days when people depended for heat upon log fires 
built on clay hearths in " stick-and-dirt " fireplaces? 
When the pioneers were toiling and suffering in our 
wilderness country, deep under their feet lay the coal 


and the gas which were to drive the car of progress at 
dizzy speed a hundred years later. What would Colonel 
George Rogers Clark and General William Henry Har- 
rison have said, had some person told them what Indiana 
would look like now ? Wouldn't you like to know 
just how Simon Kenton would have received the state- 
ment that seventy years after his time people would 
read by lightning, travel by lightning, talk by lightning, 
and warm their houses and toes with an invisible fuel 
drawn up from wells a thousand feet deep ? 

Even when Christopher Harrison was laying out the 
site of Indianapolis, romantic dreamer as he was, he 
would have been scarcely able to entertain a vision of 
our magnificent stone Capitol and the splendid and 
populous metropolis in which it stands ; the asphalt 
streets, the electric cars, the electric lights, the tele- 
phones, the underground pipe lines for natural gas, the 
rush of business and pleasure, the best schools in the 
world, and the best bicycle path ! You see that history 
is but a chain of facts drawn out by the unceasing 
activities of man. Nature was finished long ago by a 
divine hand ; but man has yet a great deal to do before 
he shall have found out all that Nature is made of. It 
seems that the earth is but a mighty storehouse of mate- 
rials and energies for the fulfillment of the conditions 
upon which is based the mysterious fabric of human 
destiny in this life. The progress of civilization is along 
two parallel roads, the material road and the moral road. 
Every material advance has its equivalent moral move- 
ment. The pioneers were great and good ; but we are 
greater and better. 

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